Ethnic studies course mandatory starting in 2019


Revo Grafia

High school students from the Santee Education Complex celebrate outside the Nov. 18 LAUSD Board of Education meeting when the ethnic studies graduations requirement was approved by a 6-1 vote.

Joseph Mousaed

Classes such as Mexican American history and Asian Studies will be offered to students as semester long full-credit courses starting in 2019.

Ethnic studies, the study of culture and race, has been approved as a graduation requirement for Los Angeles Unified School District after the Board of Education voted 6-1 on Nov. 18.

This requirement will make LAUSD the second school district in the state af- ter El Rancho Unified to require an ethnic studies course for graduation. This new requirement will affect students’ sched- ules and the amount of electives offered to students.

Supporters believe that this ethnic studies course will offer students a broad perspective of the history of the cultures around them.

“Students of color represent over 90 percent of LAUSD, but people of color are conspicuously missing from the cur- riculum.” said Sean Abajian, the outreach coordinator from the Ethnic Studies Now Coalition, which supports the new grad- uation requirement. “Studies have shown time and time again that when students see themselves reflected in the curriculum, there are very positive academic results.”

The Ethnic Studies Now Coalition is an organization that advocated for this measure to be passed. Members felt that people should learn about more than just the history of the “rich white man.”

Ethnic Studies Now states that out of over 150,000 stu- dents in the district, only 700 currently take an ethnic stud- ies course. More than half of the students in the district are of color and this new requirement will allow them to learn about their culture as well as the culture of other minorities.

Board member Tamar Galatzan was the sole vote against the implementation of the new course. She believes that this requirement will put another hindrance on the amount of elec- tives students can take and that those electives “are some
of the main reasons students stay in school,” in a statement.

Students who take courses such as band and sports will have to cut some elec- tives to fit ethnic studies in their schedules and this what Galatzan is against. The financial cost of including a new course is also troubling, according to district officials estimate this new requirement will cost about $3.9 million. This money will go to funding for new teachers, training and textbooks.

The effect on student schedules at Daniel Pearl Magnet High School by this graduation requirement will be discussed in an upcoming district meeting with counselors.