High School Ethnic Studies in SPPS

  • iconWelcome to the High School Ethnic Studies Curriculum and Instruction resource page. This is a new graduation requirement starting with the class of 2025 in Saint Paul Public Schools. Below you will find curricular resources for the Critical Ethnic Studies course, along with the main themes, department related events and additional resources.


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  • Mission: 

    Foster the transformative power of solidarity, shared knowledge and social justice in building a better tomorrow with students, families and communities.



    Embed Ethnic Studies teaching and practices across all K-12 grades and content areas while centering youth voices.

  • Critical Ethnic Studies Course:

    Critical Ethnic Studies is an interdisciplinary course that examines students' identity, heritage, culture and communities in relation to various power structures, forms of oppression and inequalities that have an impact on their lives. With an emphasis on stories and lived experiences of people of color in the United States, the course explores the collective struggles, resilience and triumphs of their communities.

    Goals of this course are to:

    • Cultivate students’ knowledge of self while appreciating the differences around them
    • Build a sense of pride in their shared communities
    • Learn about the importance of advocacy for change and healing
    • Develop critical thinking skills to empower them to be agents of positive change in a more equitable future

    7 Core Ethnic Studies Principles:

    • Self-Love: Reflect on one’s worth and accept my own inherent value. Develop an understanding of “who I am and where I am from” as a key to my personal growth and self-acceptance.
    • Honor: Honor Indigenous, Black and communities of color by providing space to share stories of their struggle and resistance, along with their intellectual and cultural wealth. 
    • Community: Build and be in community by accessing and sharing in our cultural wealth. 
    • Critical Consciousness: Actively question, challenge and expose the world’s systems and operations in order to recognize and analyze systems of inequality.
    • Resistance: Resist all systems of oppressive power rooted in racism through collective action and change.
    • Hope: Continue to believe and have faith that things will get better in order to heal from intergenerational trauma through collective hope and perseverance.
    • Visualization: Imagine and build new possibilities that promote collective narrative of transformative resistance, critical hope and radical healing.

    |  SPPS Critical Ethnic Studies Course Overview  |  Critical Ethnic Studies Framework SY 22-23  |

      What is Ethnic Studies?

      • What is Ethnic Studies?

        Our shared understanding of “Ethnic Studies” is the critical and interdisciplinary study of race, ethnicity, and indigeneity with a focus on the experiences and perspectives of people of color within and beyond the United States. Ethnic studies analyzes the ways in which race and racism have been and continue to be powerful social, cultural, and political forces, and their connections to other axes of stratification, including gender, class, sexuality, and legal status. 

        Ethnic Studies analyzes the intersectionality of identity, including race, ethnicity, gender identity, class, sexuality, and belief systems, amongst others.  As a community-focused program, we highlight the local narratives and history of Saint Paul-Minneapolis and make connections with national and global events. 

        *We recognize that Ethnic Studies is reflective and responsive to our community and culture, and as it changes so will these terms and languages.


        Ethnic Studies Collaboration Circle Initiative

        Our collective community spaces are meant to help uphold Ethnic Studies in Saint Paul Public Schools. Each collaboration group is tasked to support the Ethnic Studies Department in a variety of ways, as shown here.

      Additional Resources, Q&A, etc.