Publication Date

Spring 2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)




Robert Gliner

Subject Areas

Educational leadership


Ethnic Studies has existed in higher education for more than fifty years. In high school, critical education researchers have recognized Ethnic Studies as vital to improving attendance, lowering suspension rates, and boosting GPAs for BIPOC students. This has given rise to the recent K-12 Ethnic Studies model curriculum adoption by the State Board of Education, and the signing of Assembly Bill 101, making California the first state to require that all high school students complete a semester-long course in Ethnic Studies. Regrettably, Ethnic Studies continues to be mostly limited to higher education and grades 9-12 in public schools despite research documenting young children’s ability to analyze a racialized society. Through an exploratory documentary-film study, this dissertation examines the possibilities and challenges of including Ethnic Studies in elementary schools as explained by teacher educators and Ethnic Studies faculty. As a result, the following themes emerged: (1) Ethnic Studies, curriculum and pedagogy, has a positive impact on all elementary aged students, particularly BIPOC students, (2) educators play a critical role in implementing authentic Ethnic Studies, and (3) children in elementary school are never too young to be exposed to Ethnic Studies. Recommendations are suggested for ways in which Ethnic Studies could be implemented by individual educators, schools, and school districts.