Dr. Anita Fernández, Assistant Dean of the Social Justice & Community Organizing program at Prescott College, and the institute she co-founded, XITO (Xicanx Institute for Teaching and Organizing) are hosting a conference with local educators in Salinas, CA this weekend to offer advice in drafting an ethnic studies curriculum.
XITO arose out of a conflict in Tucson, AZ that resulted in the termination of the Mexican American Studies program even though it was popular and proven effective in closing the achievement gap among the Latinx community. Now the institute’s members travel the country hosting workshops and presentations to help communities create ethnic studies programs for their specific populations. You can read more about the program here.
Given the demographic changes happening in the country, Fernández believes teaching ethnic studies is critical. “By 2040, Chicanx and Latinx youth will be the majority, and the drop-out rate or the push-out rates are still the highest,” she said. “In order for us to address the changing demographics, we also need to change (the curriculum). In the past, there have been colonial structures in which students don’t see themselves in the curriculum because they were not built for them.”