SHORT NEWS: MUSD Cultural Calendar Implementation

EDUCATORS TODAY HEAR a lot about gaps in education – achievement gaps, funding gaps, school-readiness gaps. Still, there’s another gap that often goes unexamined: the cultural gap between students and teachers. Teaching cultural diversity prepares students to be global citizens by exposing them to people from different cultures and social groups. In a California Department of Education news release in August 2020 State Board President, Linda Darling Hammond, wrote , “Ethnic studies can be an important tool to improve school climate and increase our understanding of one another.(”

Former Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation back in 2016. Assembly Bill (AB) 2016 to develop a model curriculum for ethnic studies in our high schools. AB-2016 was a landmark law designed to ensure all California high school students have an opportunity to learn about their own or another culture’s history and importance in shaping the state’s past, present, and future.” The curriculum was developed with ethnic studies faculty from California universities and public school teachers with experience teaching ethnic studies.

Our own California Department of Education is currently in the review/revision stage of eventually legislating an Ethnic Studies curriculum rooted in four foundational disciplines of ethnic studies—African American Studies, Asian American Studies, Chicano Latino Studies, and Native American and Indigenous Studies, including educator resources for engaging in expanded, critical conversations that can be customized to reflect a school community’s diversity and engage in broader social justice issues.

Fighting racism is a big job, and educators often find themselves asking, what can I do? The answer is similar to an old joke: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, of course—and teaching cultural diversity is no different. Small chunks can have a big impact. This is one way you can do something that brings about awareness and change.

The Madera Unified School District is anxiously awaiting the completion of this curriculum project to implement with our high school students. However, we don’t believe the content of cultural diversity and awareness should be reserved for just our high school students. To this end, the Department of School Culture and Climate is pleased to announce a multicultural calendar project. Our team has identified significant multicultural celebrations by month, and has a team of MUSD teachers developing culturally relevant lessons to be taught at varying grade spans: kindergarten-second grades, third-fifth grades, sixth-eighth grades and high school. 

These lessons will emphasize critical thinking skills, comprehension and collaboration, and presentation of knowledge and ideas, aligning with English language arts standards. 

During the 2020-21 school year, resources for a few key events will be shared monthly, beginning with Black Poetry Day in October, Dia de los Muertos and Native American Heritage Month in November and Hmong New Year and Kwanza in December. Monthly calendars and lessons will be emailed to all teachers and administrators in our district; these resources will be permanently housed under Resources on the district’s School Culture and Climate webpage. Our hope is that teachers will incorporate the content from our multicultural lessons into another content area. Our lesson design team will continue this work next summer, developing other key heritage remembrances. 

If you or a colleague would like to participate in the multicultural calendar lesson design project, please contact Kimberly Bitter, Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports at (559)416-5858 ext 11153 or

— By Karen DeOrian, 
Director of School Culture and Climate


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