Ethnic studies course teaches students the ‘theoretical foundations of Critical Race Theory.’


Coachella Valley Unified School District’s ethnic studies course teaches students Critical Race Theory and how to apply it to “understand how race is socially constructed.” Ethnic studies became a required course for graduation with the students who were freshmen in the 2016-2017 year.

As part of the course curriculum, students will learn to “apply a sociological lens in researching and discussing issues which include race and racism, classism, gender and sexism, oppression, and popular resistance.”

The curriculum content includes becoming familiar with and understanding “Paulo Freire’s Critical Theory,” become familiar with “the factors that determine a dominant and a subordinate group in relation to power and privilege between these groups,” learn “how race is socially constructed through Critical Race Theory” and “understand the theoretical foundations of Critical Race Theory.”

Utilizing Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic’s Critical race theory: An introduction, students will focus on topics such as “understanding structures of power within society,” “does race matter,” and “does gender matter.” The “Race, Ethnicity, and Gender” unit culminating assignment requires students to “create a PowerPoint/Keynote presentation that examines the sociological perspectives learned in the unit of understanding how power structures dominant and subordinate groups, and how Race and Ethnicity plays a role within this power structure.”

Another unit in the year-long course examines “Slavery and The American Revolution” with a focus on “how slavery played a role” in the development of the United States. In this unit, students will learn and discuss the “coexistence of the ideals of the Founding Fathers and the reality of slavery” and “who is created equal.” The assignment for the unit features students preparing for and engaging in a “debate regarding whether or not slavery could truly exist with the ideals of the Founding Fathers.”

Course texts and materials include Howard Zinn’s A people’s history of the United States, Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed and Red earth, white lies: Native Americans and the myth of scientific fact by Vine Deloria.