Gender and ethnic studies supported

As an educator and an ever-curious reader, I know how LITTLE I know! Every new point of view that I encounter teaches me that what I understood to be true yesterday might be called into question today. Sure, it’s daunting to accept that my understanding of my world, my nation, and my own history is partial and imperfect — but then again, that understanding also fuels and inspires my life-long learning — the most critical credential of a solid education.

This is why I fully support the efforts of Santa Maria teachers, parents, and students to secure board approval from the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District for Ethnic and Gender Studies requirements. All students at our high schools — of all ethnicities, races, genders, and sexualities — deserve an education that is broadly culturally relevant and that informs, inspires, and challenges them. Educational research has already confirmed that Gender & Ethnic Studies courses improve all students’ performance in almost every category — from graduation rates to critical thinking to college acceptance.

Six years ago, California approved the FAIR Act (Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful Education Act). This year, the California Assembly is considering AB 2772, which would make a Gender & Ethnic Studies course a requirement for high school graduation, alongside required courses in more familiar disciplines. These legislative efforts are great news, confirming that Californians are committed to making our children as well-prepared for the 21st century as students in Oregon and Indiana, states where Gender & Ethnic Studies requirements are already on the books.

As a Californian educated in public schools from kindergarten to graduate school, I am proud of the efforts that Santa Maria’s Ethnic and Gender Studies Advisory Group has made to put this essential reform on the agenda in our city. It reminds us all that there is always more to learn.

Kate Adams

Santa Maria

Cost of arming teachers merits talk

Many valid arguments have been made about the dangers of arming teachers and bringing more guns into schools. One that I have not seen addressed is financial. A Times editorial said that it would cost more than $1,000 per gun and that does not include the costs of arms and disaster training.

Beyond that though is the issue of liability. Who will be responsible for paying for the mental health sessions that a teacher would need if he/she accidentally shoots an innocent student in the crossfire? Who would pay the teacher's legal costs if the student's family sues for wrongful death? Who would be responsible for the damages awarded to the bereaved family?

Paying teachers a bonus for arming themselves on school property and essentially becoming the first line of defense against an AR-15 is a minor part of all the costs that could be involved in a teacher shooting.

Kathleen Halbig

Santa Maria

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