OC Education Council Hosts Second Ethnic Studies Panel; Problems of misinformation persist



The Orange County Board of Education will hold its second Ethnic Studies Forum this evening at 6 p.m. after the first event last month was criticized that panelists were stacked to speak out against the classes.

Ethnic Studies courses are designed to teach the history, culture, plight, and contributions of people of color in the United States.

The forum takes place amid a heated debate that has taken place across the country and in Orange County over how US history is taught and what aspects of it have been left out of. side in the curriculum so far.

“The goal is education,” board chair Mari Barke said in a telephone interview on Monday. “So many people don’t know what Critical Race Theory is, how it differs from ethnic studies, how it’s related, is it in the curriculum, right. This is the opportunity to educate the public. “

[Read: OC Board of Education Hosts Forum as Heated Debate Over Ethnic Studies Continues]

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The second forum will include a different set of panelists, depending on the meeting agenda:

Horton was also featured as a panelist at the Orange County Education Department’s own ethnic studies forum days before the council’s first event in July. Kaplan was originally supposed to attend the first forum, but was later replaced.

Moderator Joe Collins (center) and administrators from the Orange County Board of Education listen to panelists during their Ethnic Studies Forum on July 27, 2021. Credit: LUPITA HERRERA, Voix d’OC

Critics said the first forum was biased against ethnic studies because many of the panelists chosen by the council had no training in the program.

Theresa Montaño, one of the original panelists of the First Forum and a professor of Chicana / Chicano studies at Cal State Northridge, left the forum a day before the council event.

She cited the lack of expertise and the one-sided nature of a majority of panelists as the reason for dropping out.

[ Read: Ethnic Studies Professor Drops Out of County Board of Education Forum Over Fellow Panelists ]

“It was very disappointing for her to give up the day before,” said Barke. “It was disappointing not to hear it directly from her… I think it would have been good for her to come to the forum and voice her concerns.”

Instead, Montaño spoke at a press conference hosted by Truth in Education, a newly formed group of parents, students, educators and clergy, hours before the first board panel. who made similar criticisms of the forum.

The group receives support from the Orange County Democratic Party.

Ajay Mohan, the county’s Democratic Party executive director, said tonight’s forum was another waste of taxpayer money and called it one of many publicity stunts organized by the council of the education.

“We are sorry to see this happening again,” he said in a telephone interview on Monday. “We want people to know that the Orange County Board of Education as it stands is truly the voice of a vocal far-right vocal minority that does not represent the needs and will of the students. , parents and teachers in Orange County. “

Barke defended the panel.

“I think it’s a bipartisan and very diverse panel,” Barke said. “There are people who are pro-ethnic and others who are not … I think it’s very balanced.”

The public meeting will take place onsite with limited seating at 200 Kalmus Drive, Costa Mesa, CA 92880 and broadcast live on YouTube.

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Some students, educators and parents are pushing their local districts to ensure that the stories of people of color are reflected in the curriculum taught in ethnic studies classes.

Earlier this month, the Orange County Human Relations Commission, in a press release, approved ethnic studies classes offered in K-12 schools and required for high school students.

“The richness of American history resides in the woven fabric of all the lives, cultures and histories that have contributed to its formation. Students engage, connect and share experiences, stories, cultures – it enriches his life and broadens his worldview, ”the statement read.

Others are lobbying against these courses, fearing that ethnic studies may be a pretext for what they call Critical Race Theory seeping into the curriculum.

They argue that the theory is anti-American, divides, and will subject students to political indoctrination and Marxist ideals. The theory itself has been banned in some states.

Opponents of the theory also say it teaches children that all white people are racist while victimizing people of color.

“My kids are not oppressed,” parent Barbie George said at the county school board’s first ethnic studies panel in July. “And anyone who feels comfortable with a school or a teacher saying that, I am very sorry for you.”

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Debate over ethnic studies and critical race theory dominated public commentary at some local district board meetings this year and even led administrators from the Los Alamitos Unified School District to virtually hold the ‘one of their May council meetings for security reasons, following recommendations from the police.

Proponents of ethnic studies classes say the debate has been rife with misinformation and that “critical race theory” is being used as a kind of scarecrow to scare people away from the courts.

“This debate should only be about ethnic studies,” Mohan said. “We know that ethnic studies will not only lead to a more inclusive society, but also to better outcomes for students.”

The California School Boards Association says the theory emphasizes race as a social construct and recognizes that racism is ingrained in American systems, institutions, and laws.

The association acknowledges that the developers of the theory are left-wing academics – some of whom were neo-Marxists – but argues that the theory itself is not inherently Marxist.

Academics say Critical Race Theory examines how laws and structures in the United States have historically been used against people of color. Local district officials say the theory is taught at the college level, not in high school ethnic studies classes.

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Meanwhile, state lawmakers are considering making ethnic studies a graduation requirement for high school students in California.

Unless these lawmakers approve a graduation requirement, it will ultimately be up to the individual school districts in Orange County to decide whether to include ethnic studies in their curricula and not the council of education.

The Santa Ana Unified School District and the Anaheim Union High School District administrators both voted to make ethnic studies classes a graduation requirement for high school students.

Other districts, like Tustin Unified and Los Alamitos Unified, are already moving forward with elective ethnic studies classes.

Angelina Hicks is a Voice of OC News intern. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @ angelinahicks13.

Hosam Elattar is a member of Voice of OC Reporting. Contact him at [email protected] or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.

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