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Ethnic studies and the arts – a conversation

Tuesday, May 15, 2018, 7:30pm - 9:00pm
The Crawford Family Forum 474 South Raymond Ave. Pasadena, CA 91105 Map and directions

Ethnic studies advocates have been fighting for years to get courses focused on the history and culture of racial and ethnic groups — including black, Latino, Native American and Asian communities — to California students.

Now the California Department of Education is working to create a model curriculum for ethnic studies, and, in the Legislature, a bill — AB 2772 — was introduced to require ethnic studies for high school graduation.

As schools figure out how to offer these courses, many teachers are using the arts to help students dive into the subject matter. Students in a class called “Boyle Heights and Me” at Roosevelt High School wrote a book of poems and essays about “resistance, resilience, and reimagination in Boyle Heights.” And, at El Rancho High School in Pico Rivera, students in the Chicano mural arts class receive instruction in arts and ethnic studies. (Ethnic studies is required for students graduating in the district.)

Advocates say ethnic studies will help students learn about race and identity; a majority of California students belong to communities whose histories would be taught through these courses. Critics say those conversations should be happening across already-existing classes, not siloed into a required course.

What should ethnic studies classes address, and should they be mandatory? How are districts and teachers going to navigate the difficult conversations that could result? What role do the arts and arts integration have in the future of ethnic studies in California?

Audiences joined KPCC reporter Carla Javier on Tuesday, May 15, at KPCC’s Crawford Family Forum for a conversation on the state of ethnic studies today in California as well as the role the arts will play in its future.


Guadalupe Cardona – organizer, Ethnic Studies Now and the Association of Raza Educators
Luis-Genaro Garcia, Ph.D. – art teacher, Nava College Prep Academy and Jefferson High School
Kieley Jackson – ethnic studies coordinator, Los Angeles Unified School District


When it comes to developing ethnic studies curriculum  — and the role of arts and arts integration in that curriculum — what do you most want to know? Carla would like to hear from you. Your questions will help inform KPCC’s education coverage — in person, on air and online. Enter your question and contact info below. (You can also click here to tell us about your experiences with ethnic studies.)