Ethnic Studies & Social Justice Academy curriculum focuses on systems of oppression and student activism, website calls to smash “capitalism” and “white supremacy”


New Haven Unified School District’s Ethnic Studies & Social Justice Academy, which is part of James Logan High School, features a curriculum where students “learn to interweave critical and decolonial theory and action to reach praxis.”

The academy’s website features a graphic which states “stop violence against asian [sic] communities” and “ALL OTHER ACTS OF HATE TARGETING BIPOC COMMUNITIES ROOTED IN COLONIAL MISEDUCATION AND IGNORANCE.” The second graphic displays a call to “SMASH CAPITALISM, WHITE SUPREMACY, CISHETEROPATRIARCYH & XENOPHOBIA.” All the images feature the socialist raised fist.

The program’s “Guiding Principles” state that educators and scholars will “build critical, intersectional consciousness that challenges educational curriculum.” Students will also challenge and criticize “power, oppression, capitalism, white supremacy, imperialism, colonialism, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, cisheteropatriarchy, ableism, and xenophobia on the internal, interpersonal, institutional, and ideological levels.”

The principles continue by stating that students will “learn the importance of solidarity and understand that they must transcend mere symbolic and transactional solidarity” and “embody intersectional and transformative solidarity, true activism.” Academy participants are required to “disrupt systems of power and oppression.”

The curriculum for tenth through twelfth graders weaves ethnic studies and social justice throughout the academy’s history and English courses. Sophomore student programming will focus on the theme of “identity” and developing a student’s “critical consciousness.” Junior students “focus on solidarity and collective action” which include the “basics of activism and organizing.” Seniors are required to “Mobilize” by conducting an “independent research-action project on an issue of their choice.” The twelfth graders conclude the class by running a “campaign as a class” which can range from “local, national, or even global in its scope.”

The Ethnic Studies & Social Justice Academy was piloted during the 2019-2020 school year and formally launched in the Fall of 2020.