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San Diego Unified school board approves ethnic studies plan

Parents and others protest ethnic studies and critical race theory outside San Diego Unified's headquarters.
Parents and others protest ethnic studies and critical race theory outside the San Diego Unified School District’s headquarters before the school board voted unanimously to fund development of ethnic studies in the district.
(Jarrod Valliere / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Before the vote, some opponents argued that the district will be indoctrinating students in critical race theory.

The San Diego Unified School District board unanimously approved a plan that will include ethnic studies and related diversity efforts throughout the district.

The June 22 vote came after about two dozen people protested outside the Board of Education building voicing opposition to the plan and after several people spoke for and against the plan during the board meeting.

About an hour before the meeting, the protesters carried signs and chanted “Teach diversity without division” and “Stop teaching hateful CRT,” referring to critical race theory.

Critical race theory, developed in the 1970s, posits that racism is not just perpetuated by individual biases but has been embedded into the legal system, with effects that continue today.

Some of the protesters equated the district’s plans for diversity and ethnic studies with components of critical race theory. Some said it’s a radical plan of political indoctrination.

“They are teaching kids that they are either oppressed or the oppressor,” said Karin De Jauregui, one of the protesters.

She said she is not against schools teaching diversity, history and literature but thinks the district is taking things too far.

“There’s too much talk of White privilege, White supremacy, and it’s not fair to teach that to innocent kids,” she said.

Retired San Diego Unified kindergarten teacher Ginnie Curran also protested. She said elementary-age children are not prepared to deal with the seriousness of these courses.

“Young kids are not thinking about color; they need to be free to learn,” she said.

“I like the idea of them doing it in high school.”

Some supporters of the ethnic studies effort also spoke during the meeting, saying it will promote better understanding among students of one another and their history.

Several parents said they wanted more information and transparency about the ethnic studies curriculum and materials before the district decides to fund it.

Others who supported the spending said the district needs to begin training teachers and developing the curriculum now.

Trish Gallagher told the board that ethnic and racial injustice can be found in many fields, from economics to politics to education. She said ethnic studies can help students learn to seek solutions.

“Racial injustices need to be studied in order to be solved,” she said.

Todd Maddison, San Diego County chairman of the California Choice Foundation, said parents should have a choice in whether to send their children to schools that teach critical race theory.


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