"This is one step toward building a curriculum that better reflects the history and culture of California’s diverse community," said school board President Jackie Goldberg at a Curriculum and Instruction Committee meeting on October 26.
"Ethnic studies provides many academic benefits. Young people get to learn about how people from their own and different backgrounds faced challenges and contributed to — and still contribute to — American society," she said.
The board unanimously passed an "Ethnic Studies for All Students Resolution" in August 2020, at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement, which called for the completion of a one-semester ethnic studies course as a graduation requirement beginning with the graduating class of 2027 – the incoming first-year students in the fall of 2023.
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Since the measure was passed, enrollment in ethnic studies courses across LAUSD soared by 300%, from about 8,000 students to more than 25,000 students.
The implementation of the graduation requirement puts LAUSD 3 years ahead of the state’s mandate. Furthermore, LAUSD is now the largest board-led district to adopt an ethnic studies requirement before a state requirement.
According to Ed Source, 170 LAUSD schools offer at least one of 11 ethnic studies courses.
The courses include African-American Literature, AP African American Studies, and Mexican American Literature.
LAUSD officials did not immediately respond for comment.
Meanwhile, after LAUSD’s enrollment during the 2015-2016 academic year stood at 639,337, that figure had dropped to 538,295 students by the 2022-2023 academic year – a 15% decrease.
In 2021, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill requiring students to take ethnic studies classes in order to graduate. Critics contend the controversial bill opens the door to teaching critical race theory in the classroom.
"This bill would add the completion of a one-semester course in ethnic studies, meeting specified requirements, to the graduation requirements commencing with pupils graduating in the 2029–30 school year, including for pupils enrolled in a charter school," the bill, known as A.B. 101, states.
"The bill would expressly authorize local educational agencies, including charter schools, to require a full-year course in ethnic studies at their discretion," it continues.