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Ethnic Studies
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Ethnic Studies

Ethnic Studies

What are Ethnic Studies courses?

  • Explicit exploration of identity, intersectionality, and multiplicity. 
  • Reframing curriculum to be centered around counter-narratives of communities of color
  • Structural analysis of racism and colonialism that works towards dismantling oppression
  • Interdisciplinary learning that leads to action; co-constructed with students and bridges classrooms to community

What Ethnic Studies courses do we offer in Minneapolis Public Schools?

  • African American Studies
  • Asian American Studies
  • Chicanx/Latinx Studies
  • First Nations Studies​
  • Hmong Studies
  • Race & Identity Studies
  • Somali Studies 
  • Intro to Ethnic Studies [for middle school]

Course options vary by school. Talk to a school counselor about which are available at your site.

Why has MPS chosen to prioritize the development of these courses? 

Over the last several decades, an abundance of literature on ethnic studies courses has illuminated the positive social and academic outcomes for students.  Research gathered by Sleeter and Zavala (2020) suggests that ethnic studies courses positively impact:

  • high school graduation rates for students of color (Cabrera et al., 2014; Cammarota & Romero, 2009)

  • academic achievement, engagement, and outcomes (Cammarota & Romero, 2009; Dee & Penner, 2017; Duncan, 2012;  Ginwright, 2000, 2004; Kisker et al., 2012; Lipka et al., 2005; Lopez, 2016, 2017; McCarty & Lee, 2014; Sharif Matthews & Lopez, 2018; Wiggan & Watson-Vandiver, 2017) 

  • and student sense of self and identity (Lewis et al., 2012; Thomas et al., 2008; Belgrave et al., 2000; Halagao, 2004, 2010; Vasquez, 2005)

Ethnic Studies courses are one part of our equity work and do not replace efforts to transform all Social Studies courses. The work on all our courses is rooted in ideas of culturally sustaining pedagogy. Ethnic Studies courses are unique in that they are interdisciplinary, co-constructed with students, deeply examine the concept of race as an organizing construct in US society, and students are provided opportunities to examine their own identity.

I heard Ethnic Studies is being considered as a graduation requirement. What are the implications of this?

The MPS Ethnic Studies initiative is five years old. Since it began, hundreds of students have taken the courses, with each high school making different decisions about which courses to offer. The school board is considering a policy proposal that would require all students to take a .5 credit (or 1 semester) Ethnic Studies course. This would not add to the 21.5 credits required for graduation.

At some schools most students already take an Ethnic Studies course. This policy would make it a requirement for all students and bring alignment across the district. Schools would decide which course(s) from the Ethnic Studies course offerings would work best for their student population. 

Who should take these courses?

All high school students are welcome and encouraged to take these courses.

Research and News on Ethnic Studies

Ethnic Studies: A Movement Born of a Ban, NPR
The Need for Ethnic Studies Curricula in Minnesota Schools, MnEEP
The Ongoing Battle Over Ethnic Studies, The Atlantic
The Academic and Social Value of Ethnic Studies: A Research Review, Christine E. Sleeter, National Education Association, 2011