Ethnic Studies Fails to be Implemented for The Second Time


Photo by Kimberly Farmer on Unsplash

Jason Wagner, Staff Writer

Amidst calls for curriculum diversification within the Acalanes Union High School District (AUHSD), the social studies department was one of the district’s key focuses in its reforming plans. The recent addition of Advanced Placement (AP) World History: Modern was a major step forward in this attempt. A class solely focused on the experiences of non-western countries contrasted the mostly western-centric curriculums of AP U.S. History and AP European History. However, one of the department’s biggest pushes to change the curriculum proved to be a failure for the second year in a row. 

Introduction to Ethnic Studies failed to survive to another school year due to low student sign-ups. In 2021, only 20 students signed up for the class, 40 short of the students necessary to run a class. For some of the few interested students, it was the uniqueness of the course that drew them to register.

“I signed up because I was interested and excited that Miramonte was making a class focusing on different cultures. I was hoping to learn about other cultures and share mine in the class,” sophomore Asher Patel said.

As stated in the AUHSD course catalog, the district hoped the introduction of the class would “build understanding, communication and cultural bridges and strengthen our multicultural and multiethnic school and society.” The course would have examined various identity groups, mainly racial and ethnic, and explore their struggle for justice in the United States.

“I thought it would be cool to hear about the untold history of our nation. I was sad the class was cancelled, I was super excited to take it,” senior Riley George said.

Social studies department chair Kelly Ginocchio thinks that because Ethnic Studies has never been taught at Miramonte, students were reluctant to sign up.

“I think the class didn’t get enough publicity to actually gain more students,” George said. To better advertise the class, she suggested the department should have people come into the different social studies classes to talk about Intro to Ethnic Studies and its curriculum.

Another reason Ginocchio offered for the low enrollment is that most students did not know who would be teaching the class which caused apprehension. To remedy this, the department may use those currently teaching World History and Geography, a class all Miramonte students must take, to get students more confident in choosing Ethnic Studies. Despite two failed attempts, Miramonte plans on reintroducing the class for next school year.

“It is a firm commitment by administration and staff to have this course become an integral portion of our Social Studies department,” Ginocchio said. “Social Studies teachers devoted a significant amount of time and energy to write the course proposal, to advocate for approval by the school and the district, to be prepared for Back to School night presentations, and to be prepared for the anticipated course running each of the past two years. We want this course,” Ginocchio said. 

Teachers are not giving up on their efforts to establish this course within the department. Through their optimism, the fate of Introduction to Ethnic Studies lies in students’ hands. Student interest in the course curriculum will need to increase significantly to avoid yet another failed debut.