Ethnic Studies: How it Affects Future Graduates


Oxnard Union High School District required all incoming students to take ethnic studies as a social sciences A-G requirement course starting this school year.

The ethnic studies course covers topics, including–but not limited to–ethnicity, race, gender, nationalities, and sexuality. The course emphasizes the perspectives of minority groups and teaches students from all backgrounds about how race, culture, and identity plays a role in their own lives, as well as the lives of others.

Dr. Heidi Kuehn, one of Cam High’s ethnic studies teachers, said, “Ethnic studies is all about acknowledging the importance of culture, of diverse identities and experiences in our society, and learning about the intersectionalities of all those different identities.” While people get a glimpse of diversity, they do not always get the full picture, and this is why ethnic studies is in much demand considering today’s social climate.

Since ethnic studies is a new course, many parents were curious as to what the course entails. Lisa Torres, a parent of a Cam High senior student, was concerned about how younger students would react to ethnic studies’ mature subject matter. “Are younger students ready to talk about mature topics and how will they react during argumentative statements?” Torres asked.

Although ethnic studies pushes for mature conversation, Kuehn said the class is a safe place for students to learn and talk about their opinions in a respectful manner. “Students come to their own conclusions about how they feel about these things, and we practice how to really listen to each other.  Having diverse viewpoints can be really helpful in developing a broader understanding of issues, and Ethnic Studies gives us a safe space to listen to and learn from each other.”  According to Kuehn, many students from quarter one have had responded well to the ethnic studies course.

This past September, Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill mandating ethnic studies in high schools across California because of continuing disagreements over the ethnic studies curriculum. “I am committed to making ethnic studies a reality for all of California’s students and will be re-introducing this legislation next year,” Newsom said.

Despite the uncertainty regarding the future of ethnic studies, the current freshman class at Cam High is delving into the content of ethnic studies and learning about different cultures, ethnicities, identities, and more.