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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 politics.

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 discipline referrals.

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 wide open.”

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.
  • Documentary 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 workers.

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 •
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California State University, Sacramento • Public Affairs
6000 J Street • Sacramento, CA 95819-6026 • (916) 278-6156 •