California’s Democratic-controlled state legislature may pass Assembly Bill 101 next week. If signed Governor Gavin Newsom, the legislation would mandate “ethnic studies” as a high school graduation requirement for all California public schools. “Ethnic studies” is a series of courses that focus on history, but through perspectives that advocates see as “marginalized”—including black, Asian American, and Latin American/Chicano studies. California’s adoption of the proposal could potentially set a precedent for the rest of the country.
We now have precise evidence as to who exactly has been developing the ethnic studies curriculu, that could soon be taught to California’s more than 6 million public school children: they are Marxist revolutionaries and they don’t bother to hide it.
Union del Barrio is a revolutionary socialist group that has “dedicated [itself] to struggle on behalf of ‘la raza.’” The group defines La Raza as the indigenous and Latino inhabitants of North and South America who must unite as “Nuestra América” to defeat colonialism, capitalism, and neoliberalism. They are fundamentally opposed to the “international capitalist elite that is currently led by United States imperialism.”
Their goals are explicit and extreme: “Revolutionary Nationalism demands a complete transformation of the social, economic, and political institutions that presently form the basis of our oppression.” Their agenda for ethnic studies includesthe complete abolition of borders, government by a race-based socialist collective, and the destruction of Western liberalism.
As shocking as this may sound, none of it is a secret. Throughout the past decade, Union del Barrio has been a leading force in crafting the ethnic studies curriculum that is now under consideration for all California public school students.
They have supported some of the major players responsible for promoting ethnic studies, such as Jose Lara, one of the lead writers of the original 2018 California Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC). The curriculum Lara helped draft, many parts of which future revisions have retained, stated as a purpose to address “US culture and history from the perspective of marginalized groups,” especially “Native People/s and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.” It also promoted a “critical consciousness” based on a critical race theory pedagogy advanced by Union del Barrio. One of its sample lessons promotes Black Lives Matter and asks students to address “how African Americans have historically been disproportionately impacted by racial profiling and police brutality in the US.”
Also on the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum committee is Union del Barrio affiliate Tolteka Cuauhtin, a former teacher and current member of Union del Barrio, who was nominated by Lara to co-chair the ESMC committee. Cuauhtin is arguably the most radical of the whole bunch at Union del Barrio. He was the subject of journalist Christopher Rufo’s work earlier this year exposing the presence of chants to Aztec gods of human sacrifice in the ethnic studies model curriculum.
Other activists on the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum committee include socialist activist Jeanelle Hope, critical theory propagators Artnelson Concordia and Guillermo Gomez, and Lupe Cardona, “a proud member of the socialist political organization, Union del Barrio.”
How did these Marxists gain the power to craft a curriculum that could affect millions? One of the critical links for smuggling ethnic studies activists into the California Department of Education was Stephanie Gregson. Previously the director of curriculum in the Davis Joint Unified School District, she was hired by the state as director of curriculum frameworks in 2017. In this role, she was also responsible for overseeing the work of the ethnic studies curriculum advisory committee.
Gregson has a long history with ethnic studies. She revealed in a public hearing on October 15, 2019, “I too felt that ethnic studies saved my life. I studied Latino studies as an undergrad and I went through that transformative experience.” As a result, her bureaucratic selections were heavily skewed towards ethnic studies activists (not impartial academics), many of whom were members of Union del Barrio.
Gregson was the one who nominated Lara to the California Instruction Quality Commission, which created the ESMC for the state. Lara then recommended 13 of the 18 ESMC committee members who made the final cut. All of them were either directly linked to Union del Barrio, or had sympathies with the movement.
The original ESMC, released in 2018, had raised significant controversy for its blatant anti-Semitism. The original curriculum included support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, an Palestinian activist front with ties to Hamas. The curriculum even included an anti-Semitic song teaching children that Jews control the world media. After being released for public comment, the proposal received over 19,000 negative comments. Gregson defended it, saying, “This project is very near and dear to my heart.”
Under pressure, Union del Barrio’s most radical members, including Lara and Cuauhtin, were removed from the curriculum committee. They and others who were suddenly marginalized created an activist group called “Save CA Ethnic Studies” and began campaigning to preserve the original ESMC.
Instead of working directly with the state, they began trying to convince individual school districts to accept their original curriculum. Without revealing to them the public outcry or the state’s ongoing efforts to reform the curriculum, Cuauhtin and his colleagues convinced dozens of activist organizations and almost every California State University campus to affirm support for the original curriculum.
Now, Cuauhtin, Jose Lara, and the Marxist activists of Union del Barrio may have the last laugh, as a provision within the new AB 101 allows local districts to circumvent the state-mandated model curriculum and turn to Union del Barrio for guidance on local ethnic studies curricula.
Even if districts take the current ethnic studies model curriculum from the California Department of Education, they will be using a curriculum that borrows heavily from Union del Barrio’s ideology. The new model curriculum, for example, includes a sample lesson instructing students to “recognize that colonization is an ongoing process, and to inspire critically conscious action and reflection.” Members and affiliates of Union del Barrio controlled much of the process of creating the model curriculum, which will be the primary reference for school districts if they are mandated to create their own ethnic studies courses.
Parents overwhelmingly oppose the radical ideas advanced by these organizations, but are simply unaware of the depth of the rot. Some parent groups have explicitly expressed their opposition to AB 101, but there is not currently sufficient public pressure to stop the momentum.
If AB 101 passes, the ethnic studies industry dominated by Union del Barrio and other activist groups is expected to get much larger. Gavin Newsom has already allocated $50 million for the “growth and expansion” of ethnic studies in the 2021-2022 budget—but that number is only going to grow, as ethnic studies consultancies led by Cuauhtin already charge around $1,500 an hour for implementation of their local ethnic studies programs. The overall projected cost of the ethnic studies mandate to the California taxpayer will be $276 million a year, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office.
California’s ethnic studies programs are hopelessly compromised by Marxist revolutionaries. Americans must band together to stop them from gaining a multimillion-dollar foothold in the school curriculum. The political program of Union del Barrio is very clear: the revolution is not just coming for California. It’s coming for the United States and Western civilization. We must take them at their word: Union del Barrio is about to be institutionalized into California’s public school system unless we oust them, and those who share their sentiments, from any semblance of power.