We speak with Dr. Emily Penner, who studied the impacts of two programs in which students delved into their respective races, ethnicities, and communities. San Francisco’s was designed for academically-struggling students of a range of ethnicities. Oakland’s was designed for young Black men across academic achievement levels, as part of the district’s  “targeted universalism” approach. The results, in both cases, were dramatic. 


00:00-00:30 Intros

00:30-01:32 San Francisco ethnic studies curriculum

01:32-03:01 Student selection

03:01-03:41 Students’ ethnicities and classrooms’ composition

03:41-04:19 Student voice and reflection

04:19-05:02 “Critical pedagogy”

05:02-12:40 Effects on student attendance and achievement

12:40-15:11 Teachers exercising their professional judgment

15:11-15:18 Professional development

15:18-18:01 Differentiating between impact of “great teachers” and the curriculum

18:01-19:49 “High fidelity context”

19:49-23:48 Oakland’s African American Male Achievement program

23:48-25:27 Targeted Universalism & working with a range of  groups of students

25:27-28:57 Outcomes and effects

28:57-29:21 Spillover effect on young Black women

29:21-30:24 Avoiding deficient orientation

30:24-31:42 Relationship to My Brother’s Keeper

31:42-35:19 Developments in ethnic studies in California

35:19-37:15 Qualitative resources about Oakland program

37:15-38:45 Outro


Click here to see the full transcript of this episode.


Photo by JD Doyle

Soundtrack by Podington Bear