Filipino organizations support bill requiring ethnic studies programs in schools

SANTA CLARA, CA — Non-profit organization LEAD Filipino recently held its third annual Fly Pinay leadership summit to give Filipinas a chance to build relationships with successful Pinays in their field.

Along with this conference, LEAD Filipino joins other organizations in supporting Assembly Bill 331, a pilot program across 11 school districts in California — which mandates ethnic studies as a high school graduation requirement by 2024.

“The passage of ethnic studies was one of the main outcomes of conversation with nearly 20 other nonprofits and community organizations that serve Filipino communities,” said Angelica Cortez.

In 2016 — LEAD Filipino supported AB 2016, which was signed into law later that year by then California Governor Jerry Brown.

As educators across the state work with the California Department of Education to develop a curriculum based critical pedagogy and represent the various stories of minority communities — ethnic studies remains an elective other than a requirement.

“We know that we are living and working in a time of finite resources whether or not that’s financial we’re facing a teaching shortage in California. We are working with schools that have limited capacity. We’re in the highest cost region in the country being in the San Francisco Bay Area. So truly beyond the passage and beyond the legislation, we need to look at enforcement and implementation.”

Fil-Am students here say that growing up with information about their culture and heritage gives them confidence and pride.

“Growing up I really did not have any knowledge of my Filipino history, and learning more I realized that our history of resilience and resistance really ties into why ethnic studies is really important,” said Michelle Nelmida.

LEAD Filipino and others will voice their support for AB 331 to elected leaders at the state capitol during Filipino advocacy day on April 30th.

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