The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR) Education Committee reaffirms its support for the inclusion of Ethnic Studies in California public education, and calls on the California Department of Education (CDE) to adopt an Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC) that encourages cultural understanding of how different groups have struggled and worked together, highlighting core ethnic studies concepts such as equality, justice, race, ethnicity, and indigeneity. Within the ESMC framework, we encourage and support the development of West Asian-American experiences with an expanded framework that will be inclusive of otherwise marginalized communities, such as Armenian-Americans. The ANCA-WR Education Committee also supports the inclusion of other minority communities in California, so their students feel similarly supported.
“We have been actively engaged in the California Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum conversation for over 2 years, and echo the calls of Asian-American Studies scholars to examine and include the experiences of other West Asian peoples, including the Armenians,” remarked ANCA-WR Education Committee Chair Alice Petrossian. “Our Committee has always been in support of including Ethnic Studies classes in public education, and made sure that the CDE hears the voices of over 1 million strong Californians of Armenian descent. We advocate for representation in the curriculum of other marginalized groups. Ethnic studies must reflect our histories and experiences in California’s public schools.”
Armenian-Americans have a long history of racialization, immigration, as well as legal, linguistic and educational marginalization. Ethnic Studies helps young students make sense of their realities – particularly through the lens of their historical struggles– and Armenian-American students need their histories reflected in the curriculum.
At a time when our communities are under attack, whether via restrictions of immigration, histories of exclusion, invisibility and refugeehood, it is a critical time to bring about a type of curricula that brings about a framework which reflects on marginalization of our needs and histories.
Earlier, the ANCA-WR submitted letters to the President of CA State Board of Education and State Superintendent outlining some of the organization’s priorities regarding this matter. The text of the letter is provided below.
The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region (ANCA-WR) reaffirms our support for the CA Ethnic Studies framework draft, with revisions and additions of the West Asian experience, specifically in relation to Armenian-Americans.ANCA-WR strongly supports the intention to create a curriculum that “presents an opportunity for teachers to develop culturally/community relevant and responsive pedagogies that are both revitalizing and sustaining.” We welcome the drafters’ efforts to include, and urge further development on, more expansive definitions of West Asian American diasporan experiences, inclusive of peoples historically marginalized from California curricula, and United States scholarship writ large, such as Armenian-Americans.We have a wealth of resources, materials, and talent in the field of Armenian-American Studies that can help with preparing units in this course of study that would give voice to the generations of families and their children who have long waited to have their stories told. We stand ready to assist as needed.
We look forward to contributing, supporting, and celebrating the outcome of the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum in California’s public schools that truly represents the diversity of our State. We look forward to continued dialogue and welcome the draft’s expansion to include the realities of groups from the region using experts within the field of Ethnic Studies.