The Academic and Social Value of Ethnic Studies
Sleeter, Christine E.
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Ethnic studies includes units of study, courses, or programs that are centered on the knowledge and perspectives of an ethnic or racial group, reflecting narratives and points of view rooted in that group’s lived experiences and intellectual scholarship. Ethnic studies arose as a counter to the traditional mainstream curriculum. Numerous content analyses of textbooks have found an ongoing marginalization of scholarship by and about African Americans, Latino/as, Native Americans, and Asian Americans. In acknowledgement of the dominance of Euro-American perspectives in mainstream curricula, such curricula can be viewed as ‘Euro-American ethnic studies.’ As students of color proceed through the school system, research finds that the overwhelming dominance of Euro-American perspectives leads many such students to disengage from academic learning. Ethnic studies curricula exist in part because students of color have demanded an education that is relevant, meaningful, and affirming of their identities. This report analyzes published studies and reviews of research that systematically document the impact of ethnic studies curricula, Pre-K through higher education, on students, academically as well as socially.
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