Schools are supposed to be a place where every child can learn. However, the education system has continued to omit key details from history. This is why schools across the United States of America need ethnic studies courses. They have taught Brown people that colonization was okay and Black people that slavery was beneficial. This pattern is also shown specifically with Indigenous people. According to educational activist Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, ”America celebrates the Indian-killing Christopher Columbus.” This is constantly seen in textbooks where history is only told through white voices without people of color knowing the truth about their history.
Students are disconnected from school because what they learn isn’t relevant to them. Over 36% of Indigenous students drop out of high school. This number is far too high and it is because the education system celebrates murderers like Christopher Columbus while forgetting about heroes like Rosa Parks and Gandhi. As a nation, we have refused to recognize the idea that we should become less racist.
This is why states around the country are organizing ethnic studies courses. These courses have rapidly increased students’ graduation percentage. Students want to go to school now because they understand that school is important and relevant.
Ethnic studies courses have become available at my school, Aragon High School. After taking the course last year I was able to understand the depths of my culture. The year learning about my culture and also other people’s cultures was really eye opening on how much our regular history textbooks forget. I realized our average history textbooks don’t recognize the struggle People of Color (POC) have had to go through. I also learned about women’s history and the history of the LGBTQ+ community which helped me better understand what these communities go through on a daily basis. My eyes were opened to a lot of new ideas. I really felt connected with both my culture and also other cultures.
Most students benefit from learning about their own culture. According to a Stanford Graduate School of Education study on the San Francisco Union School District, students that took ethnic studies had improved attendance rates and the graduation rate moved to 90%. It also made students 15% more likely to enroll at a college. This demonstrates that students are a lot more connected with ethnic studies. When students learned about their culture they were able to be more focused in class and therefore learn more. Although opponents of ethnic studies have stated that it is “more racist,” this is a claim with no real reasoning behind it. The labeling of these courses have shown us the true ideals of these people. As a Brown POC I learned about my culture on a different level. Rather than white washing every immigrant, it is better to allow immigrants and POC to continue to learn and practice their own cultures. Ethnic studies programs show POC the truth about their history and connect them with their culture.
Everyone needs to have a fair opportunity and with the current system the only people that have an opportunity are white people. This is why with the ethnic studies program we can help make a better education system. Even if history textbooks teach more about colonizers like Columbus they can also teach about freedom fighters like Gandhi. This way, no matter what textbooks schools choose there will always be an option for better education and less racism. We need more educational programs like ethnic studies to teach students how to become more understanding people and learn more. The education system has not taught us these things which is why so many people of color face racism on a daily basis. Overall, even though there is so much racism in educational systems, change is possible through ethnic studies courses and with change comes the betterment of society.