ethnic studies effort
#WishiLearnedinHS Campaign Launches
in Solidarity with Ethnic Studies Educators and Students in Arizona
This hash-tag has been created in response to the Ethnic Studies ban in Arizona. It is designed to bring attention to the cultural gaps in our education; the gaps that widen as governments and school districts privilege some histories, while silencing other cultures and points of view. We turned to social media and asked people:
What do you wish you learned in high school as it relates to various cultural identities, histories, and perspectives?
On Feb 1, 2012 the government of Arizona’s ban on the teaching of Ethnic Studies in Tuscon, Arizona takes effect backed by HB2281. Under this law, school districts that do not comply are at risk of losing millions of dollars in state funding.
This means no more Mexican American Studies. Teaching ethnic students about their culture, history, race or oppression is dangerous because it can cause resentment between ethnic groups and build anger toward the government, says Arizona’s superintendent. This law has also resulted in the banning of books from Shakespeare and Paolo Freire to bell hooks.
In effect, HB2281 as a whole is designed to hinder political education and critical thinking.
As Arizona’s government moves forward to boldly protect a euro-centric education, we Americans across the country reflect on our own education. We recognize that Arizona’s law is part of a broader tradition that overlooks the accomplishments, perspectives and history of people of color, women and other marginalized groups.
Many of us have received an education that privileges the stories, ideas, history and perspectives of wealthy, western, white men. It is this tradition that creates a need for courses like Ethnic Studies, Mexican American Studies, Asian American Studies, African American Studies, Women’s Studies, Queer Studies, and many “others.” While we hope that Arizona and other states push to make classrooms and curricula truly inclusive, there is still a need to teach ALL students Ethnic Studies courses that take a more in-depth look at marginalized histories, literature, and perspectives.
What happens when people know and understand their own and other’s history and oppression? The State of Arizona may be afraid of the answer to that question. But we must consider this as we reflect on the gaps in our education. The expression “I wish I learned that in high school” has political implications.