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Capital University News, California State University, Sacramento
November 18, 2003
Ethnic studies effort expands
A pioneering CSUS
program that introduced an ethnic studies curriculum at Sacramento’s Hiram
Johnson High School is expanding exponentially, thanks in part to a three-year,
$375,000 federal Learn and Serve grant.
Last fall, CSUS students and faculty in the ethnic studies department launched
an ethnic studies course for ninth-graders at the high school. The curriculum,
which is considered a model for other programs in the state, has been expanded
to incorporate students in 10th through 12th grades as well, focusing on such
issues as globalization, economic history of the United States and community
In the spring, a math and science tutoring and mentoring component was added
at both Hiram Johnson and at nearby Wilson C. Wood Middle School. Preliminary
results show improved test scores, increased classroom participation and decreased
This fall the components will come together as a Community Studies Academy at
Hiram Johnson with the ethnic studies course as the anchor.
Gregory Mark, chair of the ethnic studies department, credits the program’s
quick take off to the leadership at Hiram Johnson. The expansion is already
ahead of schedule, Mark says. “Because of the success, the door’s
The program was developed in response to a needs assessment conducted by CSUS
ethnic studies students. Concerns expressed by parents, students, faculty and
neighbors included campus safety, youth violence and gangs, substance abuse,
student-teacher relationships and after-school activities.
Sixty-five ethnic studies students from CSUS take part as facilitators and tutors,
providing important role models for the high school students. The ethnic studies
department has also been involved in the on-going refinement of the curriculum.
“The benefits they receive are incredible. Students are learning how to
write proposals, but for a purpose,” Mark says. “We’re building
strong community partnerships. This is potentially a national model.”
The Community Studies Academy is designed to fit the school-within-a school
structure being implemented in Sacramento-area schools. The idea is to provide
students with skills and knowledge for careers in community services such as
health and human services, youth programs, education and government, and to
offer service-learning opportunities. In addition to the ethnic studies course
and the availability of tutoring-mentoring, programs include a documentary arts
sequence, a peer counseling course and a service learning internship.
- Service learning:
The Academy will include an on-campus community-based organization to provide
programs to strengthen the school and community. As part of the curriculum,
CSUS professors will develop internship programs where 11th- and 12th- graders
can gain skills necessary for entry-level jobs and explore careers.
arts: To help students connect their classroom lessons to everyday experience
in their community, 10th, 11th and 12th grade students will complete a documentary
arts program where they’ll learn video production techniques and methods
for conducting oral history projects. The goal is for students to create community
documentaries and preserve them for historians, scholars and community. Ethnic
studies professor James Sobredo helped develop the curriculum and is overseeing
the documentary class.
- Peer counseling:
To decrease conflict on campus, the Academy will develop a peer counseling
program where 11th and 12th grade students, trained in listening skills and
crisis intervention and mediation techniques, will be available to counsel
other students. The student counselors will be supervised by school social
For more information,
contact the ethnic studies department at 278-6645 or 278-6646.
California State University, Sacramento Public Affairs
6000 J Street Sacramento, CA 95819-6026 (916) 278-6156