Supporting the Movement for Ethnic Studies
The Education for Liberation Network has played a critical role in cultivating and sustaining Ethnic Studies in the nation for more than five years. We understand our role as supporting those working at the local levels to provide young people with the curriculum and pedagogy that tells truth to power about who they are and where they come from. By taking local struggles and providing a national platform, EdLib honors the everyday struggle while amplifying voices that need to be heard.
EdLib Ethnic Studies History
EdLib’s initial involvement came in response to the attempt to ban Ethnic Studies in Arizona, and more specifically, the highly regarded Mexican American Studies (MAS) program in Tucson. At Free Minds, Free People 2011 in Providence, Rhode Island, MAS teacher and Education for Liberation Advisory Board member, Curtis Acosta was a featured presenter who provided an example of the curriculum and pedagogy of MAS. The Education for Liberation Network list-serv became a key focus point for updates from the situation in Tucson, and became a source of solidarity and action, once the program was officially dismantled in January 2012. The relationship between the Education for Liberation Network and Teacher Activist Groups assisted in the creation of the No History Is Illegal campaign, which provided curriculum from the banned MAS program in Tucson for teachers to use in a national day of solidarity on February 1st, 2012.
Picking up from the national momentum to save Ethnic Studies and MAS in Tucson, the Education for Liberation Network Advisory Board instituted a plan to create national and regional assemblies with the intention of helping educators and grassroots organizers to implement Ethnic Studies in their own communities. During the fall of 2012 our initial Ethnic Studies Assembly in the Bay Area brought together nearly 75 educators to organically plan and organize an initial plan to create movement toward the implementation of Ethnic Studies in California, as well as toward a National Assembly to be held at FMFP 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. A follow-up Assembly for Bay Area educators was held in January to assist in the plans of facilitating the National Assembly.
Three National Assemblies focusing on Ethnic Studies have been held at FMFP, our national conference, in Chicago 2013, Oakland 2015, and Baltimore 2017. All three Assemblies led to regional organizing, but not a sustained network of support for regions as they moved forward toward wholesale K-16 implementation.
In addition, the same organizing team who facilitated the FMFP Ethnic Studies National Assemblies, comprised of educators from California and Arizona, hosted an Ethnic Studies Summit in San Francisco in January 2015. The summit coincided with the historic legal challenge against the state of Arizona’s ban of Mexican American Studies at the 9th Circuit. Multigenerational educators and activists from Texas, Arizona, and California participated in the summit, including current K-12 students and original members of San Francisco State’s Third World Liberation Front, the students who were instrumental in the formation of the first Ethnic Studies Department/College in the United States in 1968.
Since our work in the Bay Area, Ethnic Studies has been implemented in San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, and San José, with budding movements in Sacramento and Portland, Oregon. Our next step is to institutionalize our Ethnic Studies Summits and Assemblies to help educators and activists organize and implement the type of Ethnic Studies programs that will be the most transformational for their communities. Our next Ethnic Studies Summit will take place in Seattle, WA in spring 2019.