Cultural competence is a lesson that teachers want children to learn. Some lawmakers have introduced a bill to improve multicultural education, but it has failed twice.
According to Democratic House Representative Joe Salazar, the curriculum currently taught isn’t reflective of the different backgrounds of the students.
“We have this provision in the state law already that requires the teaching of multicultural education but across the entire state it’s either, #1 not being taught, #2 it’s not being taught consistently, or #3 the history that is being taught is poor history,” Salazar said.
His solution is the Multicultural Bill. It would create a statewide curriculum by a commission of experts and community leaders that reflects our diverse population and for the first time include Asian American history in the lessons.
Kerrie Dallman, the president of Colorado Education Association, says this is an important bill for the kids of our state.
“It’s important to me as an educator and to our members that we develop cultural competence amongst our students. I mean we have to learn how to work together in a global economy,” Dallman said.
Despite the support of the teachers and some lawmakers, the bill has been shot down twice.
“We can get it out of the house just fine and we’ve even gotten it out of the house with bipartisan support. It’s the Senate that holds it up and to this day we still have no idea why or what the rationale is to hold up this kind of commission,” Salazar said.
9NEWS reached out to Senate Republicans for an answer, but none responded. Salazar thinks it’s because some lawmakers don’t want to talk about the negative aspects of history.
“They are firmly opposed to talking about it and don’t want students to know about it. I think that serves as a disservice to our state. So yeah on that end it becomes a race issue. And the politics issue I think that issue then drives the politics behind it,” Salazar said.
A version of this bill has been implemented in California, where studies show an increase in attendance, GPA and credits earned.
“Students become invested in their education at that point when they start hearing about history that pertains to them. It’s closing that learning gap,” Salazar said.
Which is why Salazar will introduce the bill for a third time when session starts on Jan. 10.
“It’s when we become absolutely aware of our history that we are able to move forward to the present into the future without repeating those mistakes and rectifying the inequities of the past,” said Salazar.
The bill would cost $38,000 a year, and will be used for expenses for the statewide committee to meet twice a year. It’s a small cost compared to the multibillion dollar budget.
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