Frequently Asked Questions

What is Empowered Ethnic Studies?

Empowered Ethnic Studies is an approach to educating America’s kids in K-12 schools about diversity in a non-ideological and non-coercive way. The training and curriculum emphasize both the role of diverse ethnic communities in American democratic life and the power of the individual to make change.

How does Empowered Ethnic Studies contrast with the Liberated Model?

There are different ways to teach Ethnic Studies (ES). Empowered ethnic studies focuses on educating and building understanding, while tackling challenging issues through an analytic lens. Students are taught civic responsibility, exposed to multiple political perspectives, and encouraged to develop opinions based on inquiry. Its guiding principles specifically guard against political indoctrination and are based on the History-Social Science Framework for California Public Schools.

In contrast, Critical/Liberated Ethnic Studies imposes a narrow political ideology, promotes a militant, anti-Western agenda, polarizes students, and views history and civics entirely through a racial lens. It divides students into powerful oppressors and disempowered victims, categorizing them based on inborn color-based identity, not individual characteristics, and frames ideas and groups in all-or-nothing terms. This pits students against each other based on ideology or skin color. Critical/Liberated ES also forces students to accept predetermined answers, rather than inviting inquiry.

While both approaches aim to address racism, Empowered Ethnic Studies leads to critical analysis of multiple perspectives, informed decision making, and respectful dialogue. On the other hand, Critical Ethnic Studies leads to doctrine regurgitation, closed-mindedness, and bullying of those expressing different opinions.

This contrast chart summarizes the main differences between the two approaches.

  • Empowers students to dream big, overcome challenges, and be motivated engaged community members
  • Builds mutual respect, self-confidence, awareness, intergroup understanding and empathy
  • Elevates marginalized or targeted ethnic groups, their backgrounds, and contributions without denigrating others
  • Openly and honestly addresses racism and discriminatory treatment historically and today
  • Presents a range of political perspectives and approaches to bringing about change, including strengths and weaknesses of each
  • Teaches students how to think, not what to think
  • Defines and judges students based on skin color, not character or behavior
  • Divides students into victims and oppressors, pitting them against each other
  • Equates capitalism with racism
  • Glorifies Marxist and Maoist governments, ignoring their oppression
  • Romanticizes violent role models, dismissing civil rights leaders, such as MLK, as “passive” and “docile”
  • Includes Antisemitic language and concepts
  • Encourages educators to “fly under the radar” to teach controversial material
  • Trains teachers that they “must be rooted in the right politics” in order to educate
  • Teaches students what to think, not how to think

How can teachers learn about and implement Empowered Ethnic Studies?

One way for teachers to learn about and implement Empowered Ethnic Studies is to attend professional development workshops and conferences. These events provide opportunities to hear from experts in the field, collaborate with other educators, and gain new insights and strategies for incorporating diverse perspectives into the curriculum. Contact us to learn more