By David Yaghutiel | Daily Bruin
Andrew Gutierrez almost did not graduate from high school because a teacher wrongfully told him and other students of color that they did not meet graduation requirements.
Now, he teaches middle school students about racial and ethnic history and empowerment in an ethnic studies program he helped pioneer.
When the Los Angeles Unified School District incorporated ethnic studies into its curriculum in 2014, Andrew ‘Drew’ Gutierrez III, a graduate student in the UCLA School of Education and Information Studies, helped establish an ethnic studies pilot program to train education students how to teach the subject. The pilot was part of the nation’s first ethnic studies program within a teacher education program, Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez, who is graduating this month, later taught ethnic studies at a summer program at the UCLA Mann Community School, a middle school where students of color comprise a majority of the student body. He said the summer program was popular with students and teachers, and the school requested Gutierrez return and teach his own ethnic studies course the following school year.
Gutierrez said he faced both racism and homophobia growing up in Stockton, California, as a queer man of Mexican and Filipino descent.
When Gutierrez was a senior in high school, his Advanced Placement English teacher told him he could not graduate because his literacy level was inadequate. He talked to other students the teacher classified as inadequate and they noticed they were all students of color.