As a former 12-year elected member of the Los Alamitos Unified School District Board of Education, it is very disheartening to watch the school board put so much time and effort on an elective “ethnic studies” course rather than focus on mandatory “math and English.” Yes, one can walk and chew gum but apparently not very well at Los Al. There are already dozens of electives at Los Al High School. Ethnic studies should already be addressed in US History and the social sciences as all of our American Founders were from a foreign country – ethnic!
When all our students of all ethnicities have at least met (and better yet exceeded) math and English test results, only then should we consider feel-good courses. If the ethnics studies course focus is on minorities, let’s look at the California Smarter Balanced 2019 results. The report clearly tells us that LAUSD is failing our minority students when it comes to math and English.
– MATH: Nearly 20 percent of Black students and 14 percent of Hispanics have not met basic math requirements as compared to just over 1 percent for Asians. Whites and Pacific Islanders are over 7 percent and Filipinos are about 6 percent. And, at the high school over 40% of all students are below grade level in math.
– ENGLISH: Just over 12 percent of Black students and 8.25 percent of Hispanics have not met basic English requirements as compared to nearly 2 percent for Asians and Filipinos. Pacific Islanders are at about 7.5 percent and Whites are at just over 5 percent.
LAUSD parents are very proud that there are many LAUSD students who have met or exceeded basic math and English requirements. However, until all students (and especially minority students) have met or exceeded math and English requirements – the basics needed to succeed in college and advance in the working world – elective courses like “ethnic studies” are a distraction from the basic 3-R’s mission of public education.
Jeffrey I. Barke, M.D.
Co-Founder Orange County Classical Academy – a free public charter school in Orange, CA