LO School Board approves new ethnic studies course
A new course proposal for a high school level ethnic studies class sparked 43 public comments from the community at the latest Lake Oswego School Board meeting Monday, Feb. 8.
The course will offer a multidisciplinary analysis of social justice movements in the U.S. and could begin as early as next school year.
Many of the comments Monday came from students, with a majority urging that the course be made mandatory instead of optional.
Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Schiele addressed the comments.
"I want to start by acknowledging all the testimony that we received about the importance of the (ethnic studies) course being mandatory because we totally agree with you. This is very important. Our staff, faculty, our administrators, everyone believes wholeheartedly about adding ethnic studies into our curriculum and making it mandatory," Schiele said.
She clarified that no single class can accomplish the task of educating students on ethnic studies, which is why the state is currently in the process of making mandatory "ethnic standards" that will be embedded into existing social science classes.
In 2017, House Bill 2845 called for the creation of ethnic studies instruction for students in kindergarten through 12th grade relating to social science standards.
Schiele said that led to the creation of a committee that created ethnic standards that will be required to be embedded in all social studies classes once the standards are complete. Schiele said that could take until 2025 — the end of the current curriculum adoption cycle.
"I hope that everybody wants to take it. But it's definitely not replacing what we're going to require in our classes for everyone," she said.
LOSD's ethnic studies course will not be mandatory.
Schiele also said that LOSD teachers have already started to embed these standards into classes.
"They know the draft standards; they are implementing and embedding some of that curriculum. And I think for some of the people who don't see that … I would encourage them to talk to their teachers," she said.
The board approved the course proposal.
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