Virtual colloquium on July 21 will discuss ethnic studies and California’s model curriculum

A panel of educational leaders will define ethnic studies and discuss California’s model curriculum during an online forum presented by the Orange County Department of Education.

Hosted by Orange County Superintendent Dr. Al Mijares, the event titled “With Liberty and Justice for All: A Colloquium on Ethnic Studies” is set to take place from 2 p.m. on Wednesday, July 21.

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Educators, school administrators, students, parents and community members who wish to participate are encouraged to register in advance at 

The forum is free, open to the general public and presented in connection with a three-day California MTSS Professional Institute organized by OCDE, the Butte County Office of Education and the UCLA Center for the Transformation of Schools. The virtual conference, aligned with the theme “Know Me, Include Me,” seeks to equip educators with practices that support the academic, behavioral and social-emotional success of all students.

Ethnic studies has been defined as the interdisciplinary study of race, ethnicity and indigeneity in the United States, with an emphasis on the experiences of people of color. Proponents believe that by affirming the identities, struggles and contributions of groups that have historically been underrepresented, students of all backgrounds can expand their perspectives and better see themselves and their peers as part of the story of the United States.

In March, the California Board of Education unanimously approved the first-ever model curriculum for ethnic studies after four drafts and more than 100,000 public comments over four years. While the curriculum is not mandatory, it presents ideas and examples for districts to consider if they choose to develop their own ethnic studies programs — as some in Orange County already have.

Meanwhile, state legislation that would make ethnic studies a graduation requirement is under consideration. If passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor, the bill known as AB 101 would require all districts in California to develop and offer an ethnic studies course by 2025-26 and make it a graduation requirement by 2030.

Here’s a list of the featured speakers:

Kimberly Young
Instructional Quality Commission Member
Teacher, Culver City Unified School District

Emily K. Penner. Ed.D.
Assistant Professor, Education Policy and Social Context
UCI School of Education

Talisa Sullivan, Ph.D.
Administrator, Equity and Access
Educational Services
Riverside County Office of Education

D.A. Horton
Assistant Professor and Program Director, Intercultural Studies
California Baptist University

Michael Matsuda
Superintendent, Anaheim Union High School District

Gregory Franklin, Ed.D.
Superintendent, Tustin Unified School District

Andrew Pulver, Ed.D.
Superintendent, Los Alamitos Unified School District

Jerry Almendarez
Superintendent, Santa Ana Unified School District

For more information, read the OCDE Newsroom’s five questions (and answers) about ethnic studies.