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Letters to the Editor: Ethnic studies will require California’s most skilled teachers

Students sit and listen to an adult in an ethnic studies class.
Students participate in an ethnic studies class at John O’Connell High School in San Francisco in 2018.
(Josh Edelson / For The Times)

To the editor: With the experience of teaching ethnic studies many decades ago at a Colorado high school (it was called “human relations”), I believe that the success of California’s new curriculum on the subject will depend on several factors: the quality of the new curriculum itself and how it is merged into the whole subject of American history; the careful and deliberate selection of teachers who are equipped to present this sensitive issue intelligently and objectively; and the ability to make sure students are not only introduced to the unique facts of our nation’s long ethnic history, but are also encouraged to participate in regular role-playing sequences.

And, parents should be involved in this important new curriculum whenever possible.

Of course, everyone knows that even the most brilliant, sensitive and dedicated teacher cannot always overcome a student’s implanted attitudes of racism or intolerance. But teachers can raise questions, listen and perhaps open minds.

June Maguire, Mission Viejo

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To the editor: I am fully in favor of teaching ethnic studies in public schools.

It does not surprise me that the notion of requiring the completion of ethic studies coursework to gain college entry has detractors, because there will always be a segment of the population opposed to anything less than full freedom of choice. To be sure, the conversation about the content of ethnic studies courses should continue.

Personally, I like the idea of offering a different reward to encourage student choice. Given that the workforce and customer base are becoming increasingly diverse, does it not make sense for employers to hire people who have taken ethnic studies classes?

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I suggest that businesses give hiring priority to those who have completed ethnic studies classes. How’s that for a carrot?

Rick Cohen, Avila Beach, Calif.

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To the editor: I’d guess that many of the students who do the ethnic studies coursework will find themselves struggling some day, and they will ask if it has to do with being Asian, Black, Latino or Native American.

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They may fail to realize that the dismantling of the American middle class over the last 40 years, more than their race or ethnicity, has determined the quality of their lives.

Daniel Landau, West Los Angeles


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