Behind the Scenes

The motivation behind the cancellation of the Ethnic Studies course

Esti Brady, Reporter

The preparation and planning for the Social Justice Through Ethnic Studies class had taken over a year. Everything appeared to be in place, ready to go for the third trimester at both City and West High. But on February 26th, a Press Citizen article came out, suddenly informing the members of Students Against Hate and Discrimination (SAHD) and the students who had signed up for it, that the class was to be “postponed”.

Equity Director Kingsley Botchway emailed SAHD about the decision, however, it came 6 hours after the Press Citizen article was published.

“I felt like I was nothing. I felt like we were so minuscule and not even on their radar that it didn’t matter to notify us,” said Lujayn Hamad ‘18, a founding member of SAHD.

The answer as to why the class was cancelled remained ambiguous for weeks. The Press Citizen article stated it was due to low enrollment, but at the school board meeting on February 27th, at which SAHD presented over 250 student signatures of support and over 60 new signups for the class, issues with budgeting were discussed instead. A few members of SAHD met with Superintendent Murley on March 13th. Their primary goal was to to figure out the actual cause of the cancellation

The Press Citizen was correct in that the course didn’t have enough students signed up.

”The number we’re looking for when deciding to run a class or not is 24, but we’ll do it at 15 if it’s the first time that course is offered,” said Murley. “And unfortunately this class didn’t meet those requirements.”

However, issues with the district’s budget not meeting the course’s chosen teacher’s requests also played a major role in the cancellation of the class.

“We have a set amount of money to pay teachers that are teaching extra courses, as Ms. Covington would be because she is not a certified teacher, and that was the dollar value offered for each of those two classes, and she later came back and essentially asked for twice as much as we had offered,” Murley said. “We decided that was not appropriate, as we would not double the pay for a teacher already working in the district, so that information was shared with her and that’s also where the deal started to break down.”

In addition to SAHD members, students who had signed up for the class were also not notified prior to the release of the Press Citizen article. Having no 4th period class on their schedule for third trimester unsettled many students.

“I was very disappointed partially because I really wanted to take the class, it looked like it had a good teacher, good syllabus, good structure, and then I was also disappointed because I had no fourth period. I had to figure out something else to do last-minute,” said Joseph Bennett ‘20.

At the March 13th meeting, SAHD requested a public apology from the district to the students who were looking forward to being in the class over the mishandling of the situation, but no apology has been put forward to date. Regardless of the sincerest of apologies or none at all, SAHD is moving forward with plans to implement this class in the future.

“The ideas are still coming together for next school year,” Hamad ‘18 said, “but there will definitely be a course offered for 2019-2020.”