The Anaheim Union High School District is contracting with Anaheim Elementary School District Trustee Jose Paolo Magcalas to train 50 AUSHD teachers in Ethnic Studies “pedagogy.” It was Magcalas who brought Ethnic Studies to the AUSHD in 2015 when he was a U.S. History teacher at Loara High School.
Magcalas and AUSHD’s progressive Superintendent Michael Matsuda are friends and political allies.
In May of 2021, the AUSHD Board of Education voted to make Ethnic Studies a graduation requirement. Several months later, Governor Newsom signed legislation to impose Ethnic Studies as a high school graduation requirement statewide. He had previously signed legislation mandating that all Cal State University students take Ethnic Studies as a graduation requirement.
The AUSHD will pay Magcalas $4,000 to conduct three workshops on March 7, April 7 and April 28 for a total of 8 hours. During the workshops, Magcalas will give teachers an “overview of the district adopted course Ethnic Studies: Cultural Experiences in America” and “training on the adopted AUHSD Ethnic Studies Framework and other content, curriculum, and pedagogical practices used in various Ethnic Studies courses that have just been adopted in the AUHSD.”
Magcalas’ ideological approach to teaching and history as an educator who blends political activism into his classroom instruction suggests the sort of training he will be imparting to AUSHD teachers.
Magcalas is a fervent advocate of Ethnic Studies and its underlying ideology. As a member of the AESD Board of Education, he successfully pushed to make Ethnic Studies a graduation requirement for students in the K-6 district.
In an academic paper, Magcalas describes the Road-to-Damascus experience that converted him into a apostle of Ethnic Studies activism:
“After the event, I vowed to bring ethnic studies to my high school one day. I knew that this curriculum would benefit and empower the hundreds of oppressed students in my high school. But I was not ready. I had to unlearn the oppressive pedagogical methods that I had been trained to practice in my own classroom. I also needed to reclaim my own history and epistemology. I am sad to admit that I was the oppressed oppressor. For six years I taught a Eurocentric perspective of United States history to hundreds of students in my community.”
Magcalas is a acolyte of Critical Pedagogy, which holds that teaching and politics are inseparable and intertwined – and that teaching is an intrinsically political act whose goal is inculcating a “social justice” consciousness in students. It is the brainchild of Pablo Freire, the late Brazilian Marxist and author of Pedagogy of the Oppressed – one of the Bibles of identity politics activists like Magcalas.
The Ethnic Studies course that Magcalas developed for Loara High School in 2015 is, in essence, a course in training students to become social justice activists.
While teaching Ethnic Studies at Loara High School, Magcalas adorned his classroom with radical symbols such as a portraits of bloodthirsty Communist revolutionary Che Guevara and unrepentant Communist activist Angela Davis, condemned Thanksgiving as a racist holiday that must be “decolonized,” and supported defunding the police while criticizing school safety officers as part of the “school-to-prison” pipeline. In 2015, Magcalas had his students make protest placards supporting a specific Anaheim council district map and then led them to the Anaheim City Council meeting, where they participated in a union-led “direct action” that prevented the council from conducting business and forced it to adjourn.