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LAUSD Approves Ethnic Studies Course For Graduation

LOS ANGELES ( — Officials with the Los Angeles Unified School District voted Tuesday in favor of adding an ethnic studies course to the district's graduation requirements beginning with the class of 2019.

KNX 1070's Jon Baird reports supporters planned to rally outside LAUSD headquarters in anticipation of the school board's vote on the issue.

The proposal from the Ethnic Studies Now coalition calls for a mandatory semester-long full-credit course from one of several LAUSD-approved subjects including Mexican American Studies, African American History, Literature of Minorities in America, and Asian Studies.

The board's motion, which was introduced by board members Bennett Kayser, George McKenna and Steve Zimmer, calls for a phasing in of the requirement, beginning with a handful of schools in 2015-16.

Currently, LAUSD offers ethnic studies courses at 19 of 94 high schools, according to California Department of Education data cited on the Ethnic Studies Now website.

The resolution makes LAUSD the second district in the state after El Rancho Unified in Pico Rivera, which has less than 10,000 students in 14 schools, to require ethnic studies for high school graduation, The Daily News reported.

Jose Lara, a history teacher at Santee High School who serves as the coordinator of Ethnic Studies Now, said his group has the support of about 50 community organizations in Southern California and from university professors throughout the nation.

According to Lara, people of color are being left out of the LAUSD curriculum.

"Studies have shown that curriculum at L.A. Unified and throughout the nation is Euro-centric," said Lara. "So many voices are forgotten, voices of Latinos, Asian Americans, African Americans, are forgotten in our history books."

The ethnic studies requirement would not increase the number of credits students need to graduate, Lara added.

Out of over 152,000 high school students in the LAUSD, only about 700 are taking ethnic studies courses despite a total population of over 90 percent students of color, according to the Ethnic Studies Now website.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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