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NAACP, partners celebrate ethnic studies standards

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he Indiana Department of Education recently released standards for a new ethnic studies course — a newly required elective course — for Indiana high schools, starting with the 2018-2019 school year. 

“As the educational leader of one of the first states to mandate a curricular offering focused on the study of the rich heritage of ethnic cultures in the United States, I am excited for students to have the opportunity to be taught historical perspectives, respect and responsiveness of a diverse population,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick,. “I want to recognize and thank the leaders who realized the importance of such an opportunity and acted accordingly.”

The Indiana General Assembly passed legislation that requires all high schools to offer an ethnic studies elective as a one-semester class at least once during the school year.

The NAACP, Indiana University-Purdue University and educators collaborated to create the standards for the new course. 

“The passage of the law mandating the offering of Ethnic Studies in Indiana high schools and, more recently, the establishment of new state standards for this course is indeed a celebratory milestone,” said David A. Suzucki, director of the Equity Institute on Race, Culture and Transformative Action at IUPUI.  “We cannot, however, rest on our laurels and we must remain vigilant to ensure that the teaching of Ethnic Studies fosters student achievement, especially for students of color.  And we must continue our advocacy for multicultural content that helps all students succeed in an increasingly diverse and global work and community environment.”

The ethnic studies course will allow Indiana students the opportunity to expand their knowledge of other cultures and lifestyles within the United States. Information about the new course, standards and resources are available at www.doe.in.gov/standards

“As a group we worked hard to ensure that the new standards reflect the studies of ethnic groups to begin at the origins and not in the middle of their histories, that the standards cross the curriculum into other subject areas especially English/Language Arts, and school districts have the choice to teach the course focusing on a particular ethnic or racial group or take a comparative approach across multiple groups,” said Garry Holland, interim education chair for the Greater Indianapolis Branch of the NAACP. “This is truly an historic moment for the state of Indiana.”

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