Ethnic Studies and Ethnic Literature are now on the menu in Poway Unified School District—district officials say it isn’t critical race theory but it sure looks like it is


The unveiling of two new elective courses on racial equality and inclusion are receiving pushback from parents and residents at Poway Unified School District in San Diego County, California.

The courses, titled “Ethnic Studies” and “Ethnic Literature,” are the product of the district’s “racial equity plan and community conversations held with students, staff, and families,” according to a Facebook post by the school district’s official account.

According to the course descriptions, Ethnic Studies will focus on the perspectives of “racialized groups” and allow “students from all backgrounds to better understand and appreciate how race, culture, ethnicity, and identity effect and impact their experiences.

Ethnic Literature will “promote cultural understanding and empathy through a deep analysis and examination of how systems of power in the United States have affected” these same groups.

Christine Paik, the Public Information Officer for the school district, has stated that there is no critical race theory, no “blame or shame” in the courses.

But these screenshots from the course description appear to emanate directly from critical race theory:

These courses are only one part of the school district’s Racial Equity and Inclusion plan, which was approved unanimously by the school board in 2020. Apart from developing “curriculum resources and course offerings for students,” the plan also involves “professional learning for teachers and staff focused on cultural proficiency and anti-bias training.”

There has been backlash to these new courses. Here is one example:

Note: There is a bill to make ethnic studies a required course in CA—it has passed the state assembly and is currently in the state senate.