HAYWARD, Calif., June 25, 2021The Hayward Unified School District (HUSD) Board of Trustees voted unanimously at the June 23, 2021 meeting to approve a new Ethnic Studies policy for the district and to waive the need for a second reading. HUSD will expand Ethnic Studies throughout all grade levels (preschool-12) and across disciplines. The policy reaffirms the district’s commitment to establishing Ethnic Studies as a graduation requirement by the 2022-23 school year. 

Research shows that Ethnic Studies curriculum in high schools leads to an increase in GPA, high school graduation rates, and college-going rates. Perhaps more importantly, it creates a greater sense of belonging among students. Back in April of 2020, the HUSD Board of Education approved resolution 1920-31 in support of Ethnic Studies. At that meeting, the board expressed an interest in considering a board policy on Ethnic Studies and, as a result, a group of stakeholdersincluding students, board members, staff, and community membersdeveloped a draft board policy for the school board’s policy subcommittee to review.   

“It’s important that we teach our students of all ages about their ancestral legacies,” stated Board President Dr. April Oquenda. “Culture is essential in the fight for racial justice, and the district believes that the promise of the full inclusion of ethnic and cultural groups who have contributed to the development of our country has not yet been realized,” she added. Wednesday night's discussion included supportive statements from students, educators, and community members. 

Ethnic Studies is the interdisciplinary study of race and ethnicity, as understood through the perspectives of major underrepresented racial groups in the United States: African Americans, Chicanx/Latinx, Asian Americans, and Native Americans/Indigenous groups. At HUSD, Ethnic Studies curriculum will include Pacific Islanders and Arab Americans. This discipline contends with racism, white supremacy culture, anti-Blackness, anti-Indigeneity, and nation-within-nation relationships. By centering the stories, experiences, and perspectives of the groups mentioned, Ethnic Studies uses community content and pedagogy to educate students to be socially, politically, environmentally, and economically conscious of their personal connections to local and transnational histories. The policy and efforts to develop an Ethnic Studies framework are informed by and will include Critical Race Theory and the Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum. 

The new policy opens the door to more collaboration with local institutions of higher learning and presents an opportunity for new teaching practices and professional development opportunities for staff. Next steps include the convening of a planning group to design the Ethnic Studies program framework, curriculum, and implementation plan.