CA Ethnic Studies Act based on ‘shallow work’, distorted data, ‘research quicksand’

Last fall, California Governor Newsom signed into law Assembly Bill 101, a compulsory K-12 ethnic studies requirement written by Assemblyman Jose Medina (D-Riverside). The governor vetoed Medina’s controversial previous version, Assembly Bill 331saying it was “insufficiently balanced and inclusive” and would need a heavy revision to receive its signature, reported the Globe. So what made the governor change his mind? Was the new version now sufficiently balanced and inclusive?

Not at all. According to an education consultant who spoke to the Globe in 2021, “the model curriculum of ethnic studies, loaded with Marxist ideology, is already driving deep divisions between peoples and generally disparaging people of ethnic origin. European and Christian”. And that’s not all.

Thousands of Californians, including Holocaust survivors, petitioned Governor Gavin Newsom vetoes Assembly Bill 101, saying, “It goes against everything that true education stands for – and it divides the world into ‘us and them’.”

“Ethnic studies is not a discipline; it’s political activism and it trains students to be foot soldiers,” said Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, co-founder and director of the AMCHA Initiative, a non-profit organization fighting anti-Semitism in institutions of higher education in the United States. “The model curriculum that the state is working on is activism and a curriculum that would be in a curriculum that is particularly harmful to Jewish children,” Rossman-Benjamin said.

In addition to vehement objections from the AMCHA Initiative, two studies cited by Ethnic Studies argue for justification of the new law affirming research shows that ethnic studies courses “boost long-term student achievement, especially among students of color,” relied on poor statistical methods, according to University of Pennsylvania data scientist Professor Abraham Wyner and UCLA law professor Richard Sander.

In a Article from March 29 on Tablet Magthe two professors say the studies “aim to show that ninth-graders who took an ethnic studies course in San Francisco public schools experienced dramatic short- and long-term academic benefits.”

Professors Wyner and Sander state that “the publication of these two surprisingly poor books and their importance to the ethnic studies movement should sound alarm bells: not only should the editing and peer review process of these two journals be reviewed, but California parents are not.” be told the truth about a potentially significant change in their children’s education.

“The studies-one of 2017 by Thomas Dee of Stanford University and Emily Penner of the University of California, Irvine, the other a follow-up from 2021 by Dee, Penner, and Sade Bonilla of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst – also claim that the Ethnic Studies course leads to an average increase of 1.4 GPA points, miraculously turning C students into B+ students.

“The experience on which these conclusions are based is so confusing, and the data reported are so ambiguous, that in fact they do not support any conclusions, positive or negative, about the effects of this particular ethnic studies course in these particular schools and at this particular time.. Indeed, not even the main author complaints that the studies provide a basis for establishing ethnic studies mandates for all students,” report professors Wyner and Sander.

“Much of left-wing education policy is based on quicksand of research, with little rigorous science to back up everything from universal government preschool to student mask mandates,” Lance Izumi told The Globe. , director of educational studies at the Pacific Research Institute.The so-called “research” to support the supposed benefits of ethnic studies for student success is no different. Significant methodological flaws in the “research” of pro-ethnic studies mean that this “research” is no better than the propaganda used to support a leftist ideological agenda. »

Professors Wyner and Sander also noted that there was a small number of students involved in the studies and a data reporting issue as the study authors said they could not share their data because it is It was administrative data for which they had to sign a confidentiality agreement. “This is a serious shortcoming,” the professors reported. “Without some form of data sharing, it is impossible to replicate or even fully understand a researcher’s findings, and the high rate of non-replicability in social science studies has been widely recognized in recent years as a serious problem.”

The two professors conclude that “the articles are surrounded by very technical jargon. The methods used appear be very sophisticated, but the results are handpicked, model checks are not performed, and the fundamental absurdity of reporting such a large effect size is ignored. Carefully read and be familiar with how regression discontinuity analysis is properly done, to easily see the sudden leaps of logic of the authors, and their mistakes in methodology and analysis.

And, “most unfortunately, exam standards are often lowest on subjects with strong ideological valence. The controversy over compulsory ethnic studies courses is a new and tense topic; editors and reviewers supportive of a particular conclusion may either ignore an article’s weaknesses or assume that anything that seems odd in the analysis simply reflects their own incomplete understanding of the authors’ methods, rather than a serious flaw.

Sean N. Ayres