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Elk Grove School District Looking Into Creating Ethnic Studies Course For High Schoolers

ELK GROVE (CBS13) — Schools in the Elk Grove Unified School District ask their students to be respectful, responsible and kind. Those are just some of the words the district wants its students to live by.

"I think it's really important for all of kids to understand and relate to other cultures," Dawn Barker, a Toby Johnson Middle School parent, said.

The district is considering adding an ethnics studies course for freshmen.

"We take a look then at something like an ethnic studies course which the Ethnic Studies Now group brought forward to us about a year ago after some incidents that happened in our district," Xanthi Pinkerton, an Elk Grove Unified School District spokesperson, said.

In one of those incidents, which is alleged to have happened on December 4th, a Muslim student at Pleasant Grove High School said another student verbally assaulted her and dumped water on her. The district is working hand-in-hand with that statewide grassroots advocacy group to implement the program for freshmen students.

"I think it's great. Yeah, we need to learn from each other," George Gaagal said.

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Ninth-graders would learn about different races and cultures as well as empathy, and how to see different issues through others' eyes. It's something some parents tell CBS13 they would want to see in their kid's school in the future when they get to high school.

"They need to learn more respect towards each other and they need to learn that we are all people regardless of race or any other preferences," Irma Chavez, a Toby Johnson Middle School parent, said

The model for the course is based on the Sacramento City Unified School District's curriculum. If approved, the program would start the 2020-2021 school year.

"This new elective course that we have will support the social and emotion learning that our students need when it comes to conflict of opinion and conflict of different cultures," Pinkerton said.

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The Ethnic Studies Now group told CBS13 it would want to see the district make the course a required course in the district.

The district is still waiting to see if it will be a requirement by the state. But some people waiting to pick up their kids or relatives at Toby Johnson Middle School CBS13 spoke feel this potential course should be a must-take.

"I'd rather see that than a language quite frankly," Cheryl Kline said.

"It seems like it would be valuable at this level as well to start that understanding early," Barker said.

The district said that staff is looking into the possibility of creating an eighth grade ethnic studies course as well.

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