The Association of Mexican American Educators, in conjunction with local educators and groups, will this Saturday host the second annual Raza Studies Now Conference at Santa Monica College.
It will be held from 9 am to 2 pm in the Humanities Complex.
Two panels overview the field of Chican@ Studies, its relevance to high school instruction, and one discusses the purpose of Chican@ Studies at the Community College level.
Three workshops will address the role of students, family/community participation, and high school-level Raza Studies instruction.
Dr. Cintli, an author and professor at the University of Arizona, who has been involved in the struggle to defend the Raza Studies department in Tucson, will deliver a keynote address. The conference, lunch, and parking are all free.
The Raza Studies Now Conference comes out of a need to address the achievement gap in local schools and broadly.
Students of color historically score well below Anglo and Asian students, and studies show the need for more culturally relevant and responsive curriculum.
Locally, the Santa Monica Unified School District revived the Intercultural District Advisory Committee which developed recommendations for an Ethnic Studies Department at the high school level.
One Ethnic Studies course is scheduled to be offered to seniors next fall.
The Raza Studies Now group brings together educators, students and community currently teaching Chicano and Ethnic Studies at the high school level and groups hoping to implement such programs at their schools.
The IDAC proposal explains in one section: “Traditionally, students of color are viewed from a deficit perspective in public schools. This historically took the form of Indian boarding schools, segregated schools, Americanization programs, corporal punishment, language discrimination, and exclusion of People of color histories and contributions. Under these conditions, Ethnic Studies evolved from 1960’s student movements demanding a more inclusive, culturally relevant education … tenets include: (a) Self determination (b) Intersectionality as lens to examine the intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality, language, and immigration status (c) the central role of the student (d) utilization of assets-based approaches to pedagogy, curriculum, and instruction—Community Cultural Wealth. In other words, Ethnic Studies in public schools is grounded in critical consciousness, critical thinking, is authentic, and is responsive to local communities.”
The Raza Studies Now group also aims to present an early draft of “El Plan de Los Angeles” which is a document calling for a broad movement to implement Raza and Ethnic Studies curriculum in Southern California.
Entertainment will be provided at lunch by local groups New Dawn Aztec dancers and Grupo La Rosa Ballet Folclorico.
Schools and groups represented include SMC MEChA, AMAE Statewide, Semillas Community Schools (East LA), Santa Barbara City College, LA Mission College, Santa Monica College, UCLA and Wilson High School (El Sereno).