A statement was made at the Sept. 27 Mountain View Los Altos High School District Board of Trustees meeting following an update on the development of an MVLA ethnic studies course. It was cautioning that students not be “indoctrinated” once the ethnics studies curriculum has been implemented.
I would like to reframe these words to caution that MVLA not continue to indoctrinate the students attending Los Altos and Mountain View high schools, including my child, with a one-sided and incomplete version of our country’s history.
There is much fervor over a course of study that was not developed for K-12 students and is not being taught in K-12 schools. I urge readers to do their own research on the topic. Do not be swayed by the deluge of misinformation about Critical Race Theory (CRT). Ethnic studies are not CRT. Teaching a complete and true history is not CRT. CRT is an erudite and complex framework within which high-level scholars, lawyers and think tanks assess sources of systemic disparity in any culture. CRT focuses on societal structures, while history and ethnic studies look at events, cultures and peoples.
What the parents of MVLA demand is an ethnic studies curriculum that will present a more comprehensive history of the United States and allow for many more students to see themselves represented in this history and recognized for the work of their ancestors that contributed to the growth of this country.
This curriculum is also an acknowledgment of the rich histories of the peoples who inhabited and worked the land before Europeans landed on the shores of what has become the United States of America. It is a celebration of the cultures of those who were taken from their homes and brought to the United States as slave laborers, before they traveled the Middle Passage and arrived on a ship in chains, and “would have the arc of their lineages forever changed” (Clint Smith, “How the Word Is Passed”). It is a complete history of the people who built the Transcontinental Railroad. It is an in-depth study of why a people were interned because of their ancestry. It is a realization that this all occurred by design and with intention, which means it can be designed to be better. “How different might our country look if all of us fully understood what has happened here?” (Smith).
The true history of our country is not to be feared and denied to students. The students have a right to learn that the full breadth of our history is both pre-eminent and problematic; that there were glories and there were crimes. Teaching a curriculum that embraces the full spectrum of our collective past will empower today’s young minds to think about how new systems would ensure equality and equity for all and not just a few. This knowledge will inspire students to be inquisitive and to dig deeper into understanding our current systems and how to influence change. Understanding the ancestral and generational injustices certain Americans have suffered will engender empathy and a willingness to help correct the wrongs and misjudgments of the past. Students will feel seen and will want to be heard.
I believe we share the same hopes and goals for MVLA student outcomes. We want our students to be well equipped to learn and understand how impactful the past is on the present. We want them to know how capable they can be to improve the future. And as they prepare for life after high school, we owe them the freedom to learn the truth and decide for themselves how they will use this knowledge in their adult lives.
Tanya Maluf is a Los Altos resident.