2/20/15 - HS: Update on Ethnic Studies Task Force and Planning to Date

Ethnic Studies Update:
To date the work has centered on researching current practice, both within the District and externally with other districts and universities. In addition, numerous groups and individuals have expressed an interest in participating in the work, and much time has been spent contacting each group or individual to listen to their interest and concerns.
Specific actions include:
  • District instructional staff met with the Coalition for Ethnic Studies Now, and the LAUSD Human Relations Committee and contacted all those expressing interest in participating in the District implementation.
  • Instructional staff reviewed existing courses in the District that either 1) would be considered in the field of ethnic studies or 2) had a subject designation that could be reviewed to determine if we could build an anchor unit or utilize instructional materials to include an ethnic studies component.
    • Electives in the field of ethnic studies are currently in either the Social Studies or Language Arts departments. African-American History is being offered at seven high schools. Mexican-American literature is being offered at seven high schools.
    • Courses with subject designations that need further analysis to determine if an anchor unit or instructional materials could be infused into the curriculum are in the social studies, language arts or visual arts departments. For example, American Images is a visual arts class currently taught in nine high schools.
  • High School principals were encouraged, via the LAUSD Brief and through the Educational Service Center Counseling Coordinators, to expand course offerings and enrollments in the area of ethnic studies beginning with the 2015-16 school year.
  • Discussions were held with instructional staff in the Arts Education Branch to determine what arts classes currently or might include ethnic studies components.
  • A meeting was held with Integrated Library and Textbook Services to examine possible instructional materials and digital resources for use with ethnic studies classes.
  • Staff is currently conducting a study of instructional activities taking place with the Multilingual and Multicultural Education Department in the area of Academic English Mastery Program, Long Term English Learner Coursework and Culturally Relevant and Responsive Education.
  • Staff compiled a list of external resources as well as initiated a curriculum folder for materials received.
  • The executive director has reached out to other districts such as San Francisco, Oakland, El Rancho and Santa Monica/Malibu to determine how their learnings can help LAUSD.
  • The executive director has reached out to LAUSD staff leading the implementation of Restorative Justice to include them in discussions about this work.

The Ethnic Studies Task Force:
An Ethnic Studies Task Force, consisting of the following individuals and stakeholder groups, will begin meeting in early March:
  • Gerardo Loera, Chief Academic Officer
  • Angel J. Barrett, Executive Director Curriculum and Instruction
  • Office of Curriculum, Instruction and School Support Content Experts:
    • History/Social Studies (2)
    • English Language Arts / English Language Development (1)
    • Multilingual, Multicultural Education Department (1)
  • United Teachers of Los Angeles (1)
  • Associated Administrators of Los Angeles - Principal (1)
  • Master Schedule Administrator (1)
  • Professors/Community Members/Parents (3)
  • Educational Service Center (ESC) Representatives (5)
  • Restorative Justice (1)

To establish common understanding of how the committee will work and share background about related topics, training will be provided to the committee in the following areas:
  • External and internal research resources at the disposal of the committee
  • Ethnic Studies presentation of current status in LAUSD, including a review of current relevant courses, locations and enrollments
  • Review of the History/Social Studies Framework for K-2
  • Presentation of Master Schedule Considerations
  • Overview of A-G Requirements and Course Approval Process

Overall, the Ethnic Studies Task Force will be discussing a myriad of topics related to the Ethnic Studies Resolution, including curriculum, credentialing, staffing, grade level implementation and budgetary implications. Based on initial meetings and conversations, it is likely that the Ethnic Studies Task Force will be examining such options as:
  • Use of current A-G requirements to provide a menu of courses in the field of ethnic studies
  • Creation of a multi-ethnic course that explores the “lessons of comparative ethno-racial studies for generalizing about American society and history and about the contemporary global order.” (definition courtesy of UC Berkley’s Ethnic Studies) Some examples of this perspective include:
  • Martin Luther King’s civil rights work and his work with poor white Southerners;
  • Civil rights activists Yuri Kochiyama’s and Malcolm X’s work on voter registration; and
  • The United Farm Workers formed from a merger of the Agricultural Workers Association (AWA), founded by Dolores Huerta and mostly composed of Filipinos, Chicanos, Anglos and Black workers and The National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) that was started by Cesar Chavez in 1962.
  • Development of integrated Transitional Kindergarten through Second Grade curricular units of studies based upon the History/Social Science’s theme of “One Nation: Many People.” This work could happen as OCISS works with MMED and Special Education to develop an overall curriculum map for K-2.

Technical Issues Within the Resolution that will Need to be Addressed through Design, Planning and Early Implementation:

An analysis of the resolution shows there are multiple technical issues that will likely impact planning and implementation of the resolution. These issues, too, will be among the topics that will be discussed by the Ethnic Studies Task Force ahead of the group’s final recommendations to be presented to the Board of Education in June 2015. Two technical issues that will need to be discussed and addressed include:

1. Seemingly contradictory intentions, one to pilot, the other to make mandatory, Ethnic Studies classwork as a requirement beginning with the 2015-2016 academic year may create different graduation requirements for different schools.

The resolution calls for a pilot in the 2015-16 school year as follows:

“Resolved further, That the ethnic studies graduation requirement curriculum be phased in a three year process, beginning with a pilot program for the 2015-2016 school year in at least five high schools in each Educational Service Center, including the Intensive Support and Innovation Center (ISIC);”

Additionally, the resolution specifies that by the graduating class of 2019, all students in LAUSD will be expected to complete an Ethnic Studies class requirement as follows:

“Resolved further, That the ethnic studies graduation requirement will continue to expand at additional high schools every year, with the recommendations of the Ethnic Studies Committee, until all high school students have courses available to fulfill the ethnic studies requirement by the 2017-2018 school year beginning with the graduating class of 2019, all District students would be required to complete a District-approved five credit, one semester course in ethnic studies;”

The resolution, then, is “seemingly contradictory” in that it calls for a pilot and three year phase in of a graduation requirement in 2015-16 that is also the freshman year of the graduating class of 2019. By requiring Ethnic Studies for the class of 2019, there is no time to pilot.

There are other, related concerns associated with the required/pilot phase in 2015-16. In particular, the creation of multiple graduation requirements for the same class of students at different schools in the District may be problematic. Piloting a graduation requirement to only one group of students could cause legal challenges in the future.

2. Preliminary analysis suggests the addition of another mandated course is expected to have significant budget and staffing implications. For example, if schools are adding courses in language arts or history to meet the new requirement, they will need additional credentialed teachers and materials. However, at some sites, another required course will (or may) reduce the number of electives offered in other fields and may result in staffing changes and displacement.

The Ethnic Studies Committee will present their findings and recommendations, including a cost analysis for implementation of the Board’s resolution at the June 9, 2015 Board of Education meeting.

approved: GL

Source: Office of Curriculum, Instruction and School Support, 213-241-5333