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Ethnic Studies and Critical Multicultural Education:

Educating for Democracy in California and Beyond

(April 2018) Public schools, like the broader societies in which they serve, have been sites of struggle throughout our history as our increasingly diverse population tries to define who we are and what we aspire to be. Schools are not immune from the legacies of capitalism, colonialism, imperialism, xenophobia, misogyny, homo- and transphobia, religious intolerance, particularly of Muslims, white supremacy, and other forces that are woven throughout U.S. history and culture. In this political moment when such ideologies and related policies and actions are increasingly amplified and normalized by hate groups all the way up to our country’s highest offices, and when historically marginalized groups are bearing the brunt of such repression, schools will reflect such ideologies even as they house ongoing struggles against them. Public education, therefore, has a responsibility to confront ignorance and misinformation, to contrast rhetoric with research, and to raise consciousness about what is really going on in our lives and how we can intervene in the world around us.

In this research brief, the California Alliance of Researchers for Equity in Education (CARE-ED), a statewide collaborative of educational researchers, analyzes the research basis for ethnic studies and critical multicultural education in public schools. We examine the racial framing of traditional curriculum, and highlight research on the impact of traditional and alternative curriculums on students academically and personally. We turn specifically to California to see the seeds of hope and change already growing. We conclude with recommendations for educators, teacher educators, educational leaders, policy makers, and advocates for continuing to expand ethnic studies and critical multicultural education as key levers for advancing democracy in schools and society.


The complete research brief on CCSS Assessments is available for download here.

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