New bill would require ethnic studies in Oregon classrooms - KPTV - FOX 12

New bill would require ethnic studies in Oregon classrooms

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A new bill being considered by the Oregon state legislature would create state standards for ethnic studies and require schools to do more to recognize the historical contributions of people of color.

House Bill 2845 would require ethnic studies be incorporated into existing social studies standards, with specific attention to ethnic and social minorities. The bill would affect students from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Lamar Wise, who represents the Oregon Student Association, has been lobbying lawmakers in Salem to consider the merits of the bill. 

Wise graduated high school in Oregon and feels his culture wasn't adequately represented in his education.

"I only heard about black people when it was February.  When it was Black History Month," he said.

Some schools in the Portland area already try to incorporate race and ethnicity in their curricula. At Lincoln High School, for example, Jessica Mallare-Best teaches a class on critical race studies.

"It is satisfying as an educator to be supported to offer this," Mallare-Best said. "Those stories have always been there. We just haven't been open to them or haven't been told them.  We've been told one narrative."

Lux Preciado-Solis, who took her first race studies class at Lincoln, said it was the first time she felt her own culture reflected in her education.

"As a person of color, like I didn't know any of that stuff,” she said. “I didn't know about the definition of racism versus prejudice and the history of, like, me. I didn't know my history and people that were like me.”

HB 2845 is currently being considered by the Joint Committee on Ways and Means.

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