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Group Of Utah Citizens Pushing For Schools To Include Ethnic Studies

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah  – A group of concerned citizens with support from Utah organizations, including the NAACP, are pushing for K-12 education to include ethnic studies.

“Right now we’re just at the beginning stages,” said Jeanetta Williams from the NAACP Salt Lake Chapter.

 “It would be good to have it in general education, something that is not elected, so they can’t say they don’t want to take it,” said Williams.

Just last week a charter school in Ogden initially gave parents the option of opting their students out of Black History Month curriculum. The option was withdrawn, but it raised a lot of concern.

“Ethnic studies and African American studies, Black history is American History,” said Williams.

Ethnic studies would be more in-depth sharing the lessons of not only Black history, but other cultures who helped build this country and its inventions.

“The person that invented stop lights, some of the people that invented microphones,” said Williams.

Mark Peterson with the Utah state Board of Education says currently Ethnic studies is already somewhat embedded in the social studies standards, but is not a specific secondary course.

“I am not aware of any discussions to make it a required course in Utah, however any district or charter could make it an elective course, that is within their prerogative,” said Peterson.

Williams credits students for knowing the basics – like who Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is, and the fight for civil rights, or who Rosa Parks and Harriett Tubman are, but the goals is it go further.

“They don’t know about the internment camps. They do not know about some of the farmworkers for the Hispanic groups, there is just a lot that is not being taught, that could be taught,” said Williams.

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