I read with interest your article “LBUSD Consultant Shares Roadmap to Confront Institutional Racism”. It reminded me of an incident that happened to me in the 1960’s at Van Nuys High School where I taught English, History and eventually became Librarian.
At that time, the LAUSD decided to integrate the students in their schools. To prepare the faculty, they had a speaker address us who, in essence, told us that we were incapable of this task because we had no experience with Black students and, as a matter of fact, there were no Black students in the school. Two weeks later two buses of Black students were delivered to the school and were assigned to classes.
The new students determined they would meet for lunch and that the library was a good place and they informed me of that. I told them that the library was used for study at lunch, there was no eating and silence was required. They informed me that the school was for them, not me, and they would meet in the library. A teacher who taught 12th grade composition was a Boston Jesuit School graduate and his class was considered one of the finest and only for the best English students. Four of the students were assigned to his class and informed him that they had had this “stuff” last year and “knew it all”. It took about six weeks for him to have a nervous breakdown, leave teaching and go out on a disability. Within five years, what had been an academic school descended into an “inner city school”, poorly maintained and with students wandering the halls unsupervised.
The point of this note is that I don’t believe that Laguna Beach has a racist problem and to hire a company that can teach this to our students is a horrible idea. I have found that the Laguna Beach students are well educated, have a high degree of college attendance, and have the sense to recognize racism when they see it. To introduce it into the curriculum may result in what happened to the school that I taught in. I also note that the company that is going to lead us into the light is only charging $49,250 for this privilege. I think that the LBUSD has better uses for its money.
Hugh Rouse, Laguna Beach