A copy of Fresno Unified School District’s scope and sequence for 7th and 8th grade ethnic studies includes a unit on “My Identity.” An optional resource linked for the unit asks students to assess their own identity, including their race, “assigned sex,” “gender,” “sexuality,” “mental health,” and “political party,” among other factors. It then asks students to analyze their privilege or oppression based on these elements of their identity.
The scope and sequence document says the course is “designed to introduce students to the importance of race, racism, culture, and ethnicity in shaping our shared history.” Ethnic studies will teach students about “the interlocking systems of oppression and privilege that impact all people.” The Zachor Legal Foundation uncovered these documents as part of a public records request and shared them with Parents Defending Education.
The first unit for middle school ethnic studies focuses on community. A lesson plan for the unit includes a worksheet that asks students to research various nonprofit organizations in their community. The lesson then asks teachers to “explain the fact that most often communities of color are disproportionately affected by community issues such as poverty, health issues & concerns, violence, etc. due to RACISM. This is not a discussion, it is a fact.”
“My Identity” is the second unit in the course. The key concepts listed for the unit include factors that “Affect Identity,” such as “Transgender, Cisgender, Nonbinary” status or whether one is “Neurotypical” or “Neurodiverse.” In addition to the optional privilege and oppression worksheet, the “My Identity” unit links to a Social Identity Wheel activity from the University of Michigan as well as a vocabulary worksheet sheet that asks students to define terms such as “transgender” and privilege.”
The third unit in the course defines Ethnic Studies. A lesson plan for the unit links to a YouTube video about the 1968 San Francisco State Strike. Around the 7:50 minute mark of the video, the narrator criticizes “tracked” math courses in K-12 schools and claims that offering advanced math tracks leads some students “to college and high paying jobs” and others “to low paying jobs, unemployment, and the U.S. Army.” The video claims that the decision for whether a student will enter advanced track math is made based on an IQ test, which the narrator says benefits wealthy kids and “really measures family income, not a child’s true potential.”
A lesson plan for Unit 4, “Investigating Systems of Power” asks “What is a system of power? Who benefits from systems of power? Who is oppressed by a system of powers?” Unit 8, “Tools of Resistance,” discusses “How we can build alliances and solidarity among communities of people valuable in trying to advance a cause and work for change.”
The “outcomes” listed on lesson plans throughout the scope and sequence appear to be modeled after the Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Consortium’s Guiding Principles and Values. The “Seven C’s” principles include “Critique empire-building in history and its relationship to white supremacy, racism and other forms of power and oppression” and “Challenge imperialist/colonial beliefs and practices on multiple levels.” A draft of the High School Ethnic Studies Scope and Sequence for Fresno Unified School District, obtained by the Zachor Legal Foundation, includes a Google Slides link that cites the Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Consortium.
Fresno Unified School District’s website touts its Ethnic Studies “V.A.L.L.E.Y” Framework. One of the L’s in the acronym stands for “Liberation,” and the website states that, as part of ethnic studies, “Students will develop a systems literacy that helps them analyze how structural oppression operates in local, national, and global settings and take action to develop new humanizing systems.”
California became the first state to include Ethnic Studies as a high school graduation requirement in 2021.