December 2021 Curriculum and Instruction Committee

Topic Focus: Ethnic Studies

Background: In August 2020, the LAUSD Board passed a Resolution to expand Ethnic Studies classes at all grade levels throughout the District. This measure, meant to fortify ongoing work toward greater racial justice and equity, established a requirement that every student would need to complete one Ethnic Studies course to graduate.

This is another tool to help build a curriculum that better reflects the history and culture of California’s diverse communities.

Many LAUSD schools already offer these courses. Twenty-seven schools offered Ethnic Studies in 2016, and the number has expanded to 103 campuses.

In the fall of 2021, the state enacted legislation making Ethnic Studies a graduation requirement throughout California starting with freshmen entering high school in the 2023- 2024 school year.

Key Ideas Presented

  • Among academic benefits, Ethnic Studies provide opportunities for students to learn how people from their own and different backgrounds face challenges and contribute to American society.  Not surprisingly, a Stanford study found that ethnic studies have positive impacts. Research shows that this curriculum in high schools leads to an increase in GPA across disciplines, graduation rates, college-going rates, and a sense of belonging (Stanford University Center for Education Policy Analysis, 2016). Further, Ethnic Studies help to narrow the opportunity gap for students of color as well as benefit white students.
  • The LAUSD Resolution in support of Ethnic Studies requires an action plan with input from stakeholders; inclusion of at least one required text in all English Lit/ELA classes authored by a BIPOC author; and, ES principles of Self-determination, Humanization, Critical consciousness, Anti-racist perspectives, and Black Indigenous Person of Color (BIPOC) voices throughout the curriculum.
  • Connection to students takes into account that students of color from a variety of ethnic and racial backgrounds make up roughly 90% of the student population. Teaching youth about their ancestral legacies and culture is key in the fight for racial justice and equity. Full inclusion of ethnic cultural groups legacies and contributions to the country have not yet been realized.
  • Ethnic Study Courses offered with an A-G Designation are African American Lit, Lit of Minorities in America, Mexican American Lit, African American History, American Indian Studies, Ethnic Studies, and Mexican American Studies.

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