The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education has approved a resolution to expand ethnic studies classes and content in all grade levels and require the completion of one ethnic studies course for high school graduation.
The resolution by Board Member Kelly Gonez was introduced at a time when young people are calling for an education that challenges racism and addresses ongoing battles for civil rights, equality and justice. The LAUSD was among the first school districts in California and the country to pass an ethnic studies resolution in 2014. Although the course and its content have been expanded and implemented in many K-12 classes, a promise to make ethnic studies a graduation requirement beginning with the class of 2019 has not yet been realized.
“Culturally meaningful and relevant curricula lead students to become more personally engaged and more likely to graduate,” Gonez said. “This resolution is centered on the principle that every child in our district deserves an education that tells their story, that reflects their identity and that challenges us all to tear down the systems of oppression, racism, anti-Blackness, anti-Indigeneity and white supremacy that have stained the legacy of our country.”
The resolution also calls for the district to further integrate ethnic studies into the pre-K-8 curricula and ensures that all high school students will have the opportunity to take at least one ethnic studies course in high school by the 2022-23 school year. It further directs Superintendent Austin Beutner to ensure instructional materials in all grade levels include texts written by authors who are Black, Indigenous or people of color. A report to the board on a plan to fully implement ethnic studies as a graduation requirement by the 2023-24 school year is expected within approximately 180 days.
“As an African-American who attended segregated schools, I know personally the value of our textbooks reflecting the images and the history of diverse cultures,” Board Member George J. McKenna III said. “Ethnic studies is important. Our students need to learn about and respect diverse races and ethnicities.”
For information, visit lausd.net.
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