Palo Alto High School's News and Features Publication

Verde Magazine

Verde Magazine

Verde Magazine

Ethnic Studies course in development

Eva Chang
CREATING COMMUNITY — Paly sophomore Michelle Park reviews the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum to learn more about what the Ethnic Studies course could offer the Paly community. “It [the course] is a great opportunity for people to know more about their backgrounds, and to really connect with other people who share the same backgrounds as them,” Park said. “And … I think it’s a great opportunity for Paly kids to learn about other cultures [that] are different than their [own].”

Palo Alto High School is currently developing an Ethnic Studies course to educate about and uplift minority ethnic groups.

The course will be a graduation requirement for the class of 2029. The Paly curriculum is currently being worked on by the Social Studies team and is expected to be completed by the fall of 2025.

“This committee [of PAUSD teachers and administration] got together four times, five times to start planning the outline of the course,” Social Studies Instructional Lead Mary Sano said. “But as far as the nitty gritty curriculum, that part is not yet in place.”
Students will have the option to take the course outside of school to fulfill the graduation requirement.

According to Chapter 3 of the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum issued by the California Department of Education in 2023, the goal is to introduce high school students to a subject that they would not otherwise learn until college.
The mandate comes from a 2021 bill signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom requiring California schools to make Ethnic Studies a graduation requirement by the 2025-26 school year.

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The material taught within classes, however, will be left up to schools.

I think it’s so cool that we have the opportunity to … learn about our cultures because it just broadens people’s perspectives.”

— Rebecca Fakatou, president of Palo Alto High School's Polynesian Club

Rebecca Fakatou, president of Paly’s Polynesian Club, said she is excited for the new curriculum, and believes that the mandatory one semester course will be beneficial in expanding people’s views.

“I think it [Ethnic Studies] could definitely benefit underrepresented minorities because a lot of people don’t know about what Polynesians are,” Fakatou said. “I think it’s so cool that we have the opportunity to … learn about our cultures because it just broadens people’s perspectives.”