North Star Journey Live

A wide lens: Ethnic studies in Minnesota classrooms

Updated: 3:35 p.m.

Ethnic studies will roll out to Minnesota K-12 classrooms in 2026. The content area was added to the state social studies standards this winter, joining history, geography, economics and government as major themes.

The Minnesota Department of Education is still working on a final framework to guide curriculum. But some districts aren’t waiting.

In 2022, both St. Paul and Minneapolis public schools added ethnic studies as a high school class required for graduation. Other districts have had ethnic studies style classes in place for even longer.

On March 18, MPR News gathered teachers and students already participating in ethnic studies and asked them to share their experiences, with the goal of imaging the future as ethnic studies is incorporated into schools across the state.

What does ethnic studies really mean? Is it a thinly veiled attempt to introduce critical race theory, as critics contend? How do students react to hard conversations about race and absent narratives? And could this be one way to close the education gap between white students and students of color?

Angela Davis hosts this special North Star Journey Live conversation, recorded live at Roseville Area High School.


  • Kong Vang, teacher at Washington Technology High School

  • Alycia Monserrate, teacher at Exploration High School

  • Natalia Benjamin, director of Multilingual Learning at Rochester Public Schools

  • Marlee Mfalingundi, teacher at Roseville Area High School

  • James Dawolo, teacher at Roseville Area High School

  • Amy Westland, social studies department lead and teacher at Roseville Area High School

  • JaLayla McCoy, student at Exploration High School

  • Jackie Le, student at Great River School

  • Ethan Vue, PSEO student at Spring Lake Park High School

  • Evelyn Sagor, student at Roseville Area High School

  • Madisen Lo, student at Roseville Area High School

North Star Journey Live (formerly known as In Focus) is a live event series and reoccurring topic on MPR News with Angela Davis centered around what Minnesota’s diverse communities need to thrive.

Subscribe to the MPR News with Angela Davis podcast on: Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or RSS.

Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.