Kick Off Hispanic Heritage Month with An Education Twitter Chat:

Kick Off Hispanic Heritage Month with Education Twitter Chat:

ETHNIC STUDIES in Our Schools

by Melanie Mendez-Gonzales

In some school districts across the country, a debate on ethnic studies in high school is happening.

What is ethnic studies? It is the critical and interdisciplinary study of race, ethnicity, and indigeneity with a focus on the experiences and perspectives of people of color within and beyond the United States.

Advocates for ethnic studies believe that it will support academic success and bring an understanding between races. Opponents argue that ethnic studies are anti-American and teach divisiveness.

According to the National Education Agency, research finds that the overwhelming dominance of Euro-American perspectives leads many students to disengage from academic learning. In fact, a recent Stanford study shows the opposite effect that an ethnic studies course had on, particularly Hispanic male, students. Students in the study who took ethnic studies classes in a pilot program in San Francisco high schools increased attendance rates, improved their grades and even increased the number of earned course credits for graduation.

These courses allow students to connect to their own culture and see their home life inside their classrooms. That has a powerful impact. Some argue that ethnic studies could have a powerful impact on white students, too.

“Similar to students of color, white students have been miseducated about the roles of both whites and people of color throughout history,” Siobhan King Brooks, an assistant professor of African American studies at Cal State Fullerton said, and culturally relevant lessons allow white children to “not only learn about people of color, but also white people’s roles as oppressors and activists fighting for racial change. This is very important because often whites feel there is nothing [they] can do to change racism.” ()

Ethnic studies were born out of both educators’ and students’ desires to counterbalance inaccuracies and predominance of the Euro-American perspective found in U.S. schools’ curricula. However, the most recent rise of ethnic studies came out of the 2010 ban of a Mexican-American studies course in the Tucson United School District and the Arizona H.B. 2281. Mexican American studies has spread to high schools at a rate no one could have imagined before Arizona banned the class in 2010.*

Five California school districts, for example, has since made an ethnic-studies class a requirement, and 11 others offer it as an elective. Currently, California AB-2016, which would require the Instructional Quality Commission to develop, and for the state board to adopt, a model curriculum in ethnic studies for all districts to offer a course of study in ethnic studies, is sitting on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.

Albuquerque Public Schools will launch a new ethnic studies program for all 13 of its high schools beginning August 2017.

In Texas, there’s a different debate.

“The ban of Mexican American studies in Arizona opened our eyes to the discrimination,” Tony Diaz, El Librotraficante, says, “and how important it is to embrace our history and culture. We realized there was nothing to ban in Texas, so we needed to start one.”

Diaz and others began to demand that the Texas State Board of Education make Mexican-American studies a requirement in Texas schools. The result was an agreement from the SBOE to call for textbook proposals for the Mexican-American curricula that would be put in place in 2017 and until then, allow schools who wished to teach MexicanAmerican studies, to do so but without direction from the SBOE. Some Texas teachers have begun to implement Mexican-American studies in their classrooms.

The one textbook “Mexican American Heritage’ that was submitted for review has come under fire for what some have called ‘deeply flawed and a deeply offensive textbook’ that is filled with stereotypes. Protestors, including Diaz, will be in Austin, Texas to testify against the textbook at the SBOE hearing on Tuesday, September 13. A final vote on adoption is scheduled for November.

These are just some of the discussions happening today about ethnic studies courses in our schools.

Join our Twitter chat as we discuss more about ethnic studies in K – 12 education this Thursday, September 15. It is the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month. Let’s have a real chat about what are Latino students are learning about their own heritage in schools.

LATISM Education Twitter Chat with Special Guest Tony Diaz

9 p.m. EST – 10 p.m. EST

TWITTER.COM/LATISM

Hashtags to follow: #LATISM #LATISMedu

Special Guest: @Librotraficante

Moderator: @LATISM

TonyDiazBio--element45Tony Diaz, El Librotraficante, founded Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say in 1998.He is the leader of the Librotraficantes-champions of Freedom of Speech, Intellectual Freedom, and Performance Protest. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and wrote the award winning novel THE AZTEC LOVE GOD. He also hosts the Nuestra Palabra Radio Program on 90.1 FM KPFT Houston, Texas.

He was recently named the Director of Intercultural Initiatives at Lone Star College-NH and will be starting their Mexican American Studies Program. Learn more about Tony Diaz at

###

Sources:

*

https://ethnicstudies.berkeley.edu/

NEA, The Academic and Social Value of Ethnic Studies: A Research Review

https://news.stanford.edu/2016/01/12/ethnic-studies-benefits-011216/

https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/03/the-ongoing-battle-over-ethnic-studies/472422/

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Bernell Trammell death: Milwaukee shooting victim’s memory stays alive

He ‘gave freedom to everyone’s voice’: A week after shooting death of Bernell Trammell, friends keep his legacy alive

Sophie Carson
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Published 12:00 AM EDT Aug 1, 2020

Bernell Trammell spent his life starting conversations.

He loved hearing what passing strangers had to say. Trammell eagerly sought out discussion — on sidewalks, homemade signs in hand, and through submissions to his publication, eXpressions Journal.

“Everybody has a voice. Everybody’s voice has power,” longtime friend Pia Lombardi recalled Trammell saying.

When he was shot and killed last week outside his Riverwest office, Trammell’s own voice was silenced, Lombardi said.

But at a vigil for him Friday, his memory and message remained vibrant. Friends recalled his good nature and willingness to chat, and neighbors said the city lost an irreplaceable local character.

“Milwaukee, the east side, Riverwest — we’re going to miss him. Because he was very vocal,” said neighborhood resident Alicia Williams. 

Because Trammell was outspoken about religion and politics — and supported President Donald Trump — some suspect he was targeted for his beliefs. Prominent conservatives have called for a federal investigation into his death, and the suspicion of a political motivation made national news and gained traction on social media.

Lombardi said she even received an invitation to appear on commentator Laura Ingraham’s Fox News show.

Milwaukee police have not released any information about possible motives for the killing.

Trammell also carried signs supporting the Black Lives Matter Movement and state Sen. Lena Taylor, a Democrat.

Those who knew Trammell said they don’t know why he was killed and can’t understand why anyone would shoot him. More than a week after his death, they don’t have any answers. Police have asked the public’s help in looking for a suspect in the shooting and have offered a cash reward for tips. 

Malcolm Hunt, a chaplain for the Milwaukee Police Department, speaks and prays for his friend Bernell Trammell during a memorial vigil.
Rick Wood / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Nate Fox of Milwaukee called Trammell a “gentle beast” who was genuinely interested in hearing different perspectives.

About 15 years ago, Fox used to see Trammell around Riverwest, dressed in a leather jacket and leather chaps.

“He didn’t look like a very approachable guy,” Fox laughed. “But if you would actually have a conversation with him you would see that he’s genuine, that he would hear you out.”

Fox, an atheist at the time, started going to Trammell with questions about religion. He didn’t know many Christians, and Trammell never judged him, he said.

Eventually Fox converted to Christianity. He credits Trammell for those early eye-opening conversations that challenged his stereotypes on what people of faith looked and acted like.

Trammell “gave freedom to everyone’s voice,” said Clayton Hotelling, a Milwaukee pastor and social worker. “It didn’t matter where you were from.”

In the 1990s Hotelling used to read eXpressions Journal and even submitted his artwork to the publication a few times. He appreciated that Trammell gave a platform to opinions of all kinds without judgment — the willingness to hear someone out has been lost in today’s political discourse, he said.

Hotelling was driving with a friend on the east side two days before Trammell’s death and saw him on the sidewalk holding a Trump sign. Hotelling honked his horn, and Trammell gave them a thumbs-up.

“It touched our heart because that was the last time we saw him,” Hotelling said.

Bernell Trammell of Milwaukee takes a photo with his cellphone while with son, Bernell Trammell Jr., 7, at a control burn at Alice Bertschy Kadish Park in Milwaukee on May 7, 2013. Trammell was fatally shot outside his office in Riverwest on July 23, 2020.
Mike De Sisti / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Patricia Holland also saw Trammell shortly before his death — she estimates about 30 minutes prior.

Holland maintains church gardens in Riverwest and headed last Thursday to Trammell’s shop to plant some flowers in his new flower beds. She left him laughing, promising to water the plants that evening.

Then from her home Holland heard what she thought were firecrackers. She followed police cars to the scene and saw paramedics performing CPR. But she knew Trammell hadn’t made it.

“A whole chill came over me,” she said.

Trammell deserves for his killer to be found, Holland said. Somebody in the neighborhood knows something, she said, pointing to the surrounding apartments and homes.

And Trammell deserves for his legacy to live on. Lombardi, who lived with Trammell in the 1990s in the apartment above his office, plans to buy the building on East Wright Street. 

She wants to continue publishing eXpressions Journal. Trammell’s voice may have been silenced, but he’d want Milwaukee to keep talking.

Contact Sophie Carson at (414) 223-5512 or scarson@gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter at @SCarson_News.

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