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Santa Barbara Unified show off importance of ethnic studies

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Santa Barbara Unified School District is trying to make the community more inclusive. This week Santa Barbara Junior High hosted an Ethnics Studies forum and celebration.

Artnelson Concordia is the Ethnic Studies coordinator. He said, “Everyone should be learning the histories of all of the communities and peoples that make up this nation.”

Ethnic Studies, it’s a course Artnelson Concordia has seen growing for fifty years, mostly at the collegiate level.
And unlike how some say it erases White history, he sees it as bringing more perspectives to tell the American story.

“It’s not the replacement of any particular narrative," said Concordia, "it’s really the addition of the multiple, multiple stories that the communities of color have as part of the long history of our nation.”

During Wednesday's forum and celebration students and teachers gave presentations and spoke about the importance of knowing and understanding the history of all of the people who make up their community.

Santa Barbara parent, Sara Bazan said “It’s really about bridging people and it’s about creating a feeling of community. So that we all can see each other as humans and all part of one community.”

Santa Barbara unified students have more than seven different backgrounds with Latinos making up the most at about 60% and White second at about 33%. Teachers said having Ethnic Studies highlights the achievements of communities that some textbooks have overlooked.

Jerry Menchaca is another Santa Barbara parent. She said, “It’s very essential to bringing a little sense of personal pride of my culture and who I am. And the importance of teaching our children to have a sense of pride of who they are and where they come from.”

Ethnic Studies is part of the Santa Barbara Unified graduation requirement. And will be a requirement statewide in 2030.

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Scott Sheahen

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