California to require ethnic studies course to graduate from high school

  • California is one of the first states in the United States to make ethnic studies a compulsory course for high school graduates.
  • The new law will first apply to students graduating from high school in the 2029-30 school year.

California will require its high school students to take an ethnic studies course to graduate, starting with the Class of 2030.

Govt. Democratic Gavin Newsom Friday signed the invoice, AB 101, enacted, making California one of the first states in the country to designate ethnic studies as a condition of graduation for public school students.

After years of advocacy and vocal opposition from a range of lawmakers and organizers, the curriculum to be taught in schools will help students understand the contributions of Black, Latino, Asian and Native Americans, as well as other groups who have faced discrimination and to marginalization in the United States.

The new law requires that public schools in the state have at least one ethnic studies class starting in the 2025-2026 school year, with a compulsory one-semester course for students graduating in the 2029-30 school year.

Democrat MK Jose Medina of Riverside, who drafted the bill, welcomed the signing of the bill.

“It’s been a long wait” he told the Associated Press. “I think schools are now ready to create more equitable and social justice curricula.”

While criticism of the curriculum did not dissipate, the bill was easily passed by the California legislature by wide margins.

Newsom vetoed an almost identical piece of legislation last year, calling for a revision of the program guide that would be “inclusive of all communities”.

Former Democratic Governor Jerry Brown also vetoed similar legislation in 2018, recognizing the value of ethnic studies but final that schools could offer the curriculum without a statewide mandate.

The revised guide to ethnic studies has been finalized and approved by the Council of State of Education in March.

“Ethnic studies classes allow students to learn their own stories – and those of their classmates,” Newsom said in an signature declaration. “I understand that the law provides a number of safeguards to ensure that lessons will be free from prejudice or bigotry and appropriate for all students.”

A Newsom office statement also said the legislation “will help expand educational opportunities in schools, teach students about the diverse communities that make up California, and boost student engagement and academic performance.” quoting a study from Stanford University.

In a press release, Medina took note of the long battle for the implementation of ethnic studies statewide.

“I want to thank the countless young people, high school and college students, teachers and professors, who organized, demonstrated, boycotted classes and started hunger strikes to demand a more equitable and inclusive education system,” he said. . “The signing of AB 101 … is a step in the long struggle for equal education for all students.”

The new law comes as battles over race and education swirled across the country, especially after George Floyd’s death last year, which sparked a national debate on systemic racism.

Conservatives, who have widely opposed classroom teaching about systemic racism, launched a crusade against Critical Race Theory, which examined how the history of racism in America continues to reverberate through the laws and policies that exist today.


About Stuart M. McFarland

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