The Expansion of “Ethnic Studies” in WA Schools

The Expansion of “Ethnic Studies” in WA Schools

*By Julie Barrett, Founder, Conservative Ladies of Washington

In 2019, the Washington State Legislature passed a bill mandating Ethnic Studies to be taught in public schools. Ethnic Studies is a “prettier” name for Critical Race Theory (CRT) and is a primary method for indoctrinating students in America and specifically in Washington state. Since 2019 Washington lawmakers have expanded upon the policies in public education, making it more widespread in the state and just short of being a graduation requirement – that’s probably not far off. (Learn more: What is Ethnic Studies? – Conservative Ladies of Washington)

 In 2019, Washington passed SB-5023,which reads:

“In order to prepare students to be global citizens, the legislature intends to require the office of the superintendent of public instruction to develop,and periodically update, essential academic learning requirements and grade-level expectations that identify the knowledge and skills that all public school students need to be global citizens in a global society with an appreciation for the contributions of diverse cultures. The office of the superintendent of public instruction must also identify and make available ethnic studies materials and resources for use in grades seven through twelve.”

SB-5023 addresses students in grades 7-12, but don’t worry, SB-6066 passed in 2020 makes the same materials available to grades k-6, making Ethnic Studies a K-12 program in Washington. There are several red flags in these bills that lead a person to realize this “Ethnic Studies” isn’t simply to teach our children about other cultures. This law requires that we prepare students to be “global citizens” and that our students need the knowledge and skills to be “global citizens in a global society.” Get a closer look at the curriculum in WA schools: Ethnic Studies Curriculum in WA Schools – Conservative Ladies of Washington

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According to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) Ethnic Studies is “an interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, and comparative study of the social, cultural, political, and economic expression and experiences of ethnic groups. Ethnic Studies recovers and reconstructs the counternarratives, perspectives, epistemologies, and cultures of those who have been historically neglected and denied citizenship or full participation within traditional discourse and institutions. In doing so, Ethnic Studies highlights the contributions people of color have made in shaping US culture and society. (Butler 2001; Hu-Dehart 1993; Yang 2000). Further, by engaging students deeply with multiple perspectives, including those that resonate with their own experiences, Ethnic Studies taught well is academically rigorous.”

The OSPI also offers guidance on what “essential knowledge” an educator must possess in order to effectively teach Ethnic Studies. The teacher will “eliminate racism by critiquing, resisting, and transforming systems of oppression on institutional, interpersonal, and internal levels.” This language leads us to believe that our systems are “systemically racist”, which is exactly what the OSPI is attempting to sell us.

“Self-reflecting on teacher identity and making explicit how identity impacts power relations in the classroom and in the community.” In other words, the teacher will point out how the white, straight people (including themselves if they fit that category) are those with power and therefore oppressing the others…simply because of their skin color.

To add insult to injury, in 2021 Washington legislature passed SB 5044, “An Act relating to equity, cultural competency, and dismantling institutional racism in the public school system.” This bill requires DEI (Diversity Equity & Inclusion) training for public school staff. The framework for this training of staff is racist and antisemitic at its core. SB 5044 adds equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism to existing cultural competency standards and training for school board directors, district staff, and school staff. It also directs school districts to prioritize one of three professional learning days to focus first on these topics.


SB 5227 require DEI training at state institutions of higher education. Beginning in the 2022-23 school year, state schools were required to establish DEI and “antiracist” training programs – not just for staff, but beginning in the 2024-25 school year these programs are required for students as well.

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In the 2023 session we saw democrat lawmakers propose a bill that would penalize school districts that chose not to incorporate ethnic studies for students and DEI/antiracism trainings for their staff. SB 5237 would withhold funding from school districts where locally controlled school boards have voted to keep the racists and divisive teachings of “ethnic studies” and DEI out of their schools. SB 5237 did not move out of committee in the 2023 session, however, it is not dead and could very likely advance in 2024. We encourage citizens to engage in the legislative process and let your representatives know that you want your local school board to have the constitutional right to make decisions for their district without state.

The Democrats in Washington and around the country have slowly and steadily, worked to pass these measures and now it is fully entrenched in the government education system. Defeating this radical agenda is not as simple as showing up at the school board en masse and protesting this curriculum. This requires a change in laws, which means we need lawmakers who are not beholden to the globalist/Marxist agenda that will vote to remove these harmful policies from our education system. It means “we the people” need to speak up at a state level to influence our legislators regarding these policies. We can make it politically uncomfortable…and we must!

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