Differing opinions on Ethnic Studies at Los Al High

Bad decision by Los Al Unified

Dear Editor,

Congratulations to the Los Alamitos Unified School Board for approving the “Cultural Experience in America” elective course. Certainly, if the school board has the time and energy for this touchy-feeling ethnics study course, it means that 100% (or very close to it) of LAUSD students excel in the basics such as reading, writing, arithmetic, history, and science.

If minority students are lagging white students and LAUSD focuses on ethnics studies instead of subjects that students need to succeed in college and the working world, can’t someone claim that is a form of racism?

Karen Swenson



Dear Editor,

I read in today’s newspaper that the Los Alamitos School District has approved an elective ethnics studies class. The United States of America has so many wonderful ethnicities that I wonder how classroom time will be determined. Will teachers look at population percentages to determine how much time is devoted to each ethnicity? For instance, if an ethnic group is 5% of the population, will only 5% of class time be devoted to that ethnic group?

Every ethnicity has a magnificent story to share about its contributions to our great country. It’s called American History.

Cindy O’Malley


Dear Editor,

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.



Dear Editor,

I read the March 3 Event-News Enterprise newspaper and was astounded to find so much praise for the new “ethnic studies” course approved by the Los Alamitos Unified School Board. But let’s start with your misleading headline: Los Al Unified Adopts First-Ever Ethnic Studies Course.

Those like me who grew up when public schools offered American History & Civic courses already received “ethnic studies.”

In those original “ethnics studies” courses known as American History & Civics, students learned how millions of people from all over the world from many different ethnicities came to America to be part of our nation’s wonderful melting pot. Those born here and legal immigrants savored their ethnic backgrounds, but together we were proud Americans who shared a patriotic love for the United States of America.

The studies included issues that showed how the country made horrible mistakes (slavery, treatment of Native Americans, internment of Japanese Americans, etc.). As many have said and written, the United States of America strives to be a perfect nation. But the goal of the American History & Civics course was to teach our nation’s united history while recognizing the contributions of many ethnic groups.

How about Los Alamitos Unified School District offering the original “ethnics studies” course known as American History & Civics?

Gayle Posner



Dear Editor,

Why do we need a “negative” ethnic studies course in our schools that dwells on the negative and not on the positive?  Why is this studies course not transparent enough for parents to review the actual books that are to be used, the suggested books for extra credit and the teachers manual?

Though I am not currently in the Los Alamitos School District, my daughter was a 2001 graduate, I am concerned about this 1621 spread of false narrative to other districts in Orange County.  Make no mistake about it, the program is backed by proponents to put down our country so the cancel culture of the USA can get into full swing. The Word: Get Thee to Your Board of Education Meetings & Participate. Period!

Nancy Hathcock



Kudos to Los Al Unified

Dear Editor,

As a mom to two Los Alamitos School District students, I am writing to share how thrilled I am that the school board has approved an Ethnic Studies course at the high school level. I believe this will prepare our students for life outside the bubble that is LAUSD. Many students will be going off to college or looking for employment after graduation. Providing students with some insight on the history of racism and the beauty of the diverse cultures all around us will give them a foundation of curiosity that will help them be better citizens wherever they are. Further, this course sends a message to students from all backgrounds that they matter. Thank you LAUSD school board for doing the right thing!

Jacqueline Asbury

Seal Beach


Dear Editor,

Hello, I am an eighth-grader at Oak Middle School. I am extremely excited and grateful for the steps being taken by our district. The option to enroll in this class during high school is an opportunity I am thankful for. Ethnic studies is a course that will reflect the diversity of my classmates and allow me to learn the history of us.

Emy Chen


Dear Editor,

I am emailing you today in direct response to the recently approved Ethnic Studies course at the high school. After hearing the news that there was resistance to such a course at Los Alamitos High School, I knew as an alumni I needed to express my overwhelming joy for this important moment.

Anytime we offer students the chance to see life through the eyes of another human, and exchange cultures, we rise above fear and become a more inclusive, loving society/student body. I faced racial discrimination and homophobia at Los Al High when I attended from 2008-2012, and I hope this class is the beginning of a fresh start.

I know it’s not about “just race” but this class offering opens the door to the hard conversations about ethnic and cultural differences and empowers young people with information that can help equip them to face discrimination and thrive in a diverse America and world. Thank you Marlys Davidson and the whole board for standing up for inclusion and education, for our schools and our community. I appreciate your efforts to make a change for the better. Keep up the great work.

Paul Scott


Dear Editor,

I am so proud and grateful to the Los Al school board members who voted overwhelmingly to support an Ethnic Studies Program in the district. This class is an elective for students that want to learn about all cultures in our community. I am grateful that they have taken this first step to remove systemic racism in our communities.

I want to thank the many students, community members and clergy as well as parents that spoke at the meeting to support our children learning the true history of our country. The good and the bad. Facts like their was someone here before Columbus “discovered” America.

The 5 to 0 vote to support this program demonstrates that the school board understands that it is finally time to teach our true history.

Sharman Snow


Dear Editor,

As an educator and mother with two children in the district, I am proud to know that Los Alamitos High will offer an Ethnic Studies Course next year that offers “windows” into the world, allowing students the opportunity to examine perspectives that are similar and different than their own. Those windows also serve as “mirrors” for Los Al students of Color to see themselves, their contributions, and perspectives in the curriculum.

Ethnic Studies honors the history and contributions of the diversity that makes up Los Alamitos, offering students a rigorous curriculum that contextualizes what is happening right now with a fuller history of our past and how we have moved forward collectively as a community and nation. It’s really about us being “better together”!

Cathery Yeh, Ph.D.


Ethnic Studies course is extremely beneficial

I am currently a senior at Los Alamitos High School and I serve on the student board of the Griffins With A Mission (G.W.A.M.) outreach program. Our team is focused on creating a safe, respectful, and welcoming environment where every student can express themselves freely at school. We are largely focused on building empathy and unifying the community which is why we as well as many others believe that Los Al is in need of an ethnic studies course.

Many of my peers don’t feel as if their culture is properly represented within social studies classes because of biased textbooks. However, ethnic studies would serve to educate students and amplify the history and voices of people of color. In the past, my school has had many instances of racism, but we now have an opportunity to prevent these incidents from happening again.

This class would expose students to new, diverse perspectives in hopes of widening their empathy for others. For these reasons, the addition of an ethnic studies course is extremely beneficial for Los Alamitos High School.

Keila Gines


Ethnic Studies: Cultural Experiences in America

LAUSD adopts Ethnic Studies Course