A school district in California has successfully launched a year-long high school ethnic studies course on Korean American history, titled “Korean American Stories, Experience and Studies.”
First-of-its-kind: The course was launched in August at the Anaheim Union High School District as a virtual course through Cambridge Virtual Academy, marking a historic moment for Korean American studies in high schools across the U.S. The course, developed by educator Dr. Jeff Kim, is open to all high school students in the district, which oversees 12 high schools, including Oxford Academy, Cypress High School and Kennedy High School.
Building the course: Kim, a member of the Irvine District 4 school board, spent three years working with district leaders and scholars based in Southern California to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the identity and history of Korean Americans.
The curriculum’s development was sponsored by the Korean Consulate General in Los Angeles. Grace Cho, a professor in Cal State Fullerton’s Department of Secondary Education, collaborated with Kim to finalize the components of the proposed course.
Course content and significance: The year-long course will delve into various aspects of Korean American history and culture. Students will explore the history of the community’s immigration, settlement, social movements, community issues, art, as well as their interactions with other Asian American groups and ethnicities.
It will also cover significant events like the 1992 Los Angeles riots, the achievements of prominent Korean Americans and the global phenomenon of K-pop.
The course will fulfill the ethnic studies graduation requirement and align with the UC system’s A-G General Education requirements.
Access and impact: The district has extended enrollment to out-of-district students, offering them the opportunity to participate in the Korean American Studies course through the Cambridge Virtual Academy without receiving formal credit. Kim emphasized that while out-of-district students won’t receive credits from the Irvine district, their respective school districts can determine credit allocation.
The district also reportedly plans to organize field trips as part of the course to enhance students’ learning experiences.