Ethnic studies to be taught in all San Francisco high schools

SAN FRANCISCO – Signs and banners were held high and chants echoed in San Francisco as over a hundred teachers, students, and parents rallied for the San Francisco Board of Education to pass a resolution for ethnic study courses be taught in all San Francisco high schools starting in the fall.

And their efforts did not go in vain.

The school board passed the resolution in a unanimous vote.

The passage of the resolution will also expand multi-ethnic and multi-culturalism into middle schools as well as working towards ethnic studies to be a graduation requirement in the future.

District officials were pleased to present that early findings show ethnic studies has helped increase grade point averages and reduced unexcused students absences.

Fil-Am San Francisco State University Associate Professor of Asian-American Studies Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales was instrumental in developing the first ethnic studies curriculum for the 2008-2009 school year.

“Ethnic studies transform lives,” said Tintiangco-Cubales. “Ethnic studies is more than just relevant, it’s responsive to the community’s needs. Mainstream education does not address the needs of marginalized peoples and their stories are not told. Often times, students come to my classes at the college level and say I’ve never been taught this or learned about this myself. And that’s why we need ethnic studies earlier. So young people can believe in their selves and know who they are, know their histories, know about their families, and know how to change their communities, as well.”

Many young Filipino educators who took ethnic studies in college say that this victory will benefit students for generations to come.

“I’ve seen the changes in my students,” said Deodor Tronco, a Pin@y Educational Partnership (PEP) teacher. “It really affects their lives in terms of validating who they are, who they can become. They really see the common ground in validating each others stories and just understanding each other.”

“They’re really the ones to reap the benefits and I’m excited for their future because they’re going to lead us now,” said PEP teacher Andrew Gutierrez III. “So we just got to build that foundation and that framework.”

Hydra Mendoza, the first and only Filipina to be elected to San Francisco public office and was recently re-elected to the school board, was proud to support a motion that may help in defeating ignorance and discrimination.

“Especially during these times of racial tensions — having our kids understand where others come from, what makes their struggles the same or different from anybody else,” said Mendoza. “How do we bring all that together so that there’s just a better understanding and more calm relationships with each other and with the larger world?”

The district will be hiring a full-time ethnic studies coordinator and will staff all 19 San Francisco high schools with a part-time ethnic studies teacher. And with the additional teacher training and other expenses, the district will be spending a total of about $470,000.

You can contact Rommel Conclara at and follow him on Twitter @rommelconclara for more information.

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  • Mario
    16 December 2014 at 10:44 pm - Reply

    Ethnic studies will be part of High School curriculum.I wish they will also include a detailed studies on the US Constitution. Majority of the leftist liberal teachers hate the US constitution.