College credit for 9th-grade ethnic studies

San Francisco ninth graders will be able to earn college credit for ethnic studies as part of a program to encourage students to plan for college, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

“We’re not really looking for the 4.4 (grade point average) students,” (San Francisco State Education Dean Jacob Perea) said. “We’re looking for the 2.1 or 2.2 students.”

The class will be taught at the same level as ethnic studies classes at SF State, Perea said. Students who don’t earn a “pass” will be withdrawn.

The ethnic studies course “encourages students to explore specific aspects of identity on personal, interpersonal and institutional levels and provides students with interdisciplinary reading, writing and analytical skills,” district officials said in a news release about the expanded pilot program.

“I don’t ever learn about the accomplishments and contributions of the people who look like me and the members of my family,” said Balboa High School freshman Monet Cathrina-Rescat Wilson during public comment at Tuesday’s school board meeting. “How can I know who I can be if I don’t know who I am? Ethnic studies provides me with the foundation to learn who I am.”

If Monet studies the accomplishments of other people with the same skin color or ethnicity, she hasn’t really learned anything about who she is or what she might accomplish. Barack Obama isn’t going to write her college term papers for her; Cesar Chavez won’t do her chem labs.

I don’t know how challenging ethnic studies classes are at SF State, but it seems unlikely that C students can do college-level reading, writing and analysis in ninth grade. I predict the ethnic studies course will ask students to discuss their experiences and identity issues and watch uplifting videos, but won’t require difficult reading or writing. The danger of calling it a college-level class is that kids think they’re preparing for college when they’re not.

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Comments

  1. wahoofive says:

    Ironically, the political correctness movement sometimes ends up promoting the very stereotypes they’re putatively opposing. Gotta have special dumbed-down curricula for these colored people, because they can’t compete otherwise.

  2. M. Eden says:

    “If Monet studies the accomplishments of other people with the same skin color or ethnicity, she hasn’t really learned anything about who she is or what she might accomplish.”

    I don’t think I fully understand your logic. Why won’t studying the accomplishments of other people help a student to explore her own self identity or potential? You don’t think that having high achieving role models is important?

  3. Makes you wonder why the college kids can’t read beyond a 9th grade level … and then you realize that it’s ethnic studies and it’s all clear.

  4. The C students of the world are the ones who most need marketable skills. If an A student wants to take an elective in African-American studies or whatever it probably isn’t going to hurt him/her.

  5. Michael E. Lopez says:

    “encourages students to explore specific aspects of identity on personal, interpersonal and institutional levels and provides students with interdisciplinary reading, writing and analytical skills”

    Which, translated into English, means, roughly:

    “Mwa mwa mwa mwa warrwow warrow mwa mwa.”

  6. Mark Roulo says:

    From the article:

    At a school board meeting last week, the head of the university’s Ethnic Studies program also promised that students would earn up to six college course credits for the high school freshman course – a rare opportunity for a 14-year-old.

    and …

    “We’re not really looking for the 4.4 (grade point average) students,” he said. “We’re looking for the 2.1 or 2.2 students.”

    I can’t be the only one who is wondering what this does to the value of a Cal State SF degree, can I? 9th graders with 2.1 to 2.2 GPAs earning college credits suggests that the college credits (and thus the awarded degrees) just aren’t very rigorous.

    Am I missing something?

    -Mark Roulo

  7. “The danger of calling it a college-level class is that kids think they’re preparing for college when they’re not.”

    this is so true. We already do a poor job of getting these kids ready for college. How much work are they going to put in when they get an A in a college course as freshmen?

  8. While the goals of the course are laudable, perhaps the most valuable thing to do with this course is to flunk nearly every student enrolled. Perhaps it would be a wake-up call earlier than when they graduate from high school, attend college and are forced to pay for remedial reading and writing courses for no credit before they can even start their real coursework. Of course, it may discourage some students from entertaining the idea of college late into their high school career, but those students might need to explore other options anyway.

  9. If I were a parent in that district I would want to know what classes the 4.4 gpa students were taking and work to get my children into those.

  10. If anyone bothers to read the original article, they would find out that these are pass-fail classes. If these courses wake up a few kids with 2.1 or 2.2 gpa’s to think about college, and perhaps to raise their sights, they will have served their purpose.

  11. Makes you wonder why the college kids can’t read beyond a 9th grade level … and then you realize that it’s ethnic studies and it’s all clear.

  12. Mark, do you really think there is any chance of them not passing this class? They specifically want 2.1-2.2 students. This is a fluff class. What Joanne said is true, videos and discussions are all this course is going to require.

    If a C student (a freshman no less) can pass this course why finish high school? Go straight to the Junior College and finish early.

  13. “Ethnic Studies” sounds great until you realize that only certain ethnicities are considered noble enough to be studied. The funny thing is that, no matter how nicely you dress up racism, it’s still going to smell.

  14. I have no problem with ethnic studies per se(or women’s studies, gay studies, etc). But it’s very hard to teach these sorts of classes in a way that they don’t resemble a consciousness-raising session or a support group. Some topics and issues are better handled as an extracurricular, and in fact can flourish better as an extracurricular. But let’s be honest here: there have been plenty of history and lit classes in the past that were pretty much all about praising the (then) current in-group. It’s sort of human nature.

  15. Seems to me that high school ethnic studies classes likely have the same rigor of content as college ethnic studies classes.So only fair to transfer that credit over for equivalent classes.

    Maybe they can use that saved time to take classes where they’ll learn something useful, like accounting.

  16. Albigensian says:

    I thought Rob’s comment was sarcastic nonsense– until I looked up SF State’s description of its ethnic studies program: “The four departments – Asian American Studies, Africana Studies, Raza Studies, and American Indian Studies …”

    Nor is it different elsewhere: at Sacremento State, Ethnic Studies is defined in the catalog as “an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the cultures, languages, historical and contemporary issues relating to African Americans, Asian Americans, Chicana/os-Latina/os, and Native Americans.”

    So, I guess it’s true: Since Ethnic Studies recognizes only four ethnicities, I guess the rest of us must be non-ethnic.

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