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Local teachers training in ethnic studies for future required classes for students

Educators and curriculum developers in California gathered at Chula Vista Middle School to learn how to create ethnic studies courses.

SAN DIEGO — Nicole Garcia Delgado is not only a keynote speaker at the Ethnic Studies Conference, but she is also a local college student. 

She and the Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Consortium, comprised of educators, teacher union activists, and curriculum developers in California, gathered at Chula Vista Middle School Saturday to learn how to create ethnic studies workshops and lesson plans for the classroom. 

"Knowledge; it’s a way to set our community free. Physically you don’t see the shackles, but we carry them mentally," said Garcia Delgado. 

Last year, Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation making California the first state to require all students to complete a semester-long course in ethnic studies to earn a high school diploma.

The mandate will start with the graduating class of 2029-2030. Although, high schools must start offering the courses in the 2025-2026 school year. 

Gretle Rodriguez, Labor Organizer for the California Teacher's Association and teacher in the Sweetwater District, pioneered this idea. She says the courses will focus on the history of different cultures, issues of marginalization, and open conversations. 

"All of that was not offered to me until I went to college. I was angry and wondered why that was kept from me. I started incorporating that in my lessons. I noticed my students wake up and feel alive. It made a huge impact. I should have learned about my indigenous background," said Rodriguez. 

"I've been doing this for many years. I can see firsthand what ethnic studies mean to students. Their heart goes off, their eyes light up, they walk out more energetic because they finally feel someone talks about them and their experience," said Professor at Cal-State Northridge Theresa Montano. 

Meanwhile, things will come full circle for Garcia Delgado, who plans to become a high school teacher and teach ethnic studies.

"The representation has not been there, and it needs to be and make a change," said Garcia Delgado. 

WATCH RELATED: California to make ethnic studies a graduation requirement (2021)

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