Multi-Cultural Education - Jasons Children bookstore 2

Using Multi-Cultural Education to Unite Communities

Guest post: Jason Lacsamana, Director, Programs and Partnerships

Across the educational landscape, histories of different communities are ignored and withheld because a vocal minority deems fact-based history as a threat. Proposed bans on multicultural education that acknowledge and teach our history are the real threat to our communities. Learning from events and people from our past provides fresh perspectives on the present, allowing us to gain deeper insights into our own lives and those of others and helping us feel more connected to ourselves and each other.

 

Unfortunately, what we’re seeing happen in the U.S. with the fight against multicultural education has become a weapon to divide, perpetuating inequality for the good of a select few.

 

As a history major and child of immigrants, I am keenly interested in how much our past collective history matters. I feel strongly about fact-based education conveying our communities’ whole stories. I have been lucky to work with vocal advocates like Michael Matsuda, Superintendent of Anaheim Union School District. In addition to fighting for education equity, he developed a civil-rights curriculum used by California school districts around Mendez v. Westminster School District, a landmark case prohibiting segregation in California’s public schools.

 

In the case, the Mendez family and other families sued four school districts in a fight against Mexican American school segregation. The case highlighted the struggle for civil rights, crossing regional, racial, and ethnic lines, and is thought to have paved the way for monumental cases like Brown vs. Board of Education.

 

Despite Mendez vs. Westminster’s impact, it’s rarely taught in schools, underscoring the missing chapters in our history books. Changemakers are stepping up loudly in the face of outliers attempting to silence history. Demand for culturally accurate lesson plans focused on all marginalized groups is growing steadily. Research shows that multicultural studies offer perspectives on the historical narratives that benefit every student regardless of their background.

 

More and more cultural and regional-specific curricula, like a Filipino American history class in Seattle, are being developed and deployed in schools. Seeing your history represented in textbooks and knowing that you, your culture, and your people are validated ultimately helps people feel more connected to themselves and their ancestors. What is most important for equitable and kind communities is learning, understanding, and appreciating the history of all people.

 

For more information on the expanding curriculum, The Asian American Education Project is a great resource for educators, administrators, and knowledge-seekers. And, if you haven’t done so already, check out the work we’re doing at St. Joseph Fund to dismantle barriers and oppressive educational structures, practices, and policies that prevent communities from thriving and fully participating in society.