In a second-floor classroom at San Francisco’s Washington High School, David Ko is leading freshmen in a discussion about bullying. But it’s not the typical conversation about treating others nicely.
“We’re learning about power — political, economic, social — our race, ethnicity, culture, nationality,” says 14-year-old freshman James Liu.
That’s because ethnic studies is not simply a history course detailing the achievements of members of different racial groups; the curriculum is conscious of and sometimes analytical about how race and ethnicity are intertwined with power.
Earlier this fall, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that will, by 2019, create an ethnic studies program for all of the state’s public high schools. Three similar bills failed in recent years, over lack of funding or concerns that they would create…