California becomes first state requiring ethnic studies for high school students to graduate

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California becomes first state requiring ethnic studies for high school students to graduate

High schoolers in California’s class of 2030 will be required to complete an ethnic studies course in order to graduate, under a bill signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom Friday.

The Golden State is believed to be the first in the US to institute such a mandate.

Public and charter schools in the state will be required to offer at least one ethnic studies course starting in the 2025-2026 school year.

Students will have to take the class on top of other standard gen-ed requirements in English, math, science and social studies.

The requirement can be completed through a school’s existing ethnic studies class, a course approved by the University of California and California State University or a locally developed one.

The new bill, AB 101, was penned by California Assemblyman Jose Medina, a Democrat from Riverside. Medina, who introduced the legislation in 2020, called it a step “in the long struggle for equal education for all students.”

“Thank you Gov. Newsom for signing AB 101. The inclusion of ethnic studies in the high school curriculum is long overdue,” Medina said in a statement. “Students cannot have a full understanding of the history of our state and nation without the inclusion of the contributions and struggles of Native Americans, African Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans.”

California public and charter schools will be required to offer at least one ethnic studies course starting in the 2025-2026 school year.
California public and charter schools will be required to offer at least one ethnic studies course starting in the 2025-2026 school year.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

The model curriculum focuses on four historically marginalized groups and their contributions to American history, according to KTLA, including: African Americans, Chicanos and other Latinos, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and Native Americans.

It also includes lesson plans on Jewish Americans, Arab Americans, Sikh Americans and Armenian Americans, who had lobbied against a similar earlier bill that had excluded them, the outlet reported.

According to the bill, the course must meet the following criteria:

  • Be appropriate for use with pupils of all races, religions, nationalities, genders, sexual orientations, and diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds, pupils with disabilities, and English learners.
  • Not reflect or promote, directly or indirectly, any bias, bigotry, or discrimination against any person or group of persons on the basis of any category protected by Section 220.
  • Not teach or promote religious doctrine.
The courses key in on select marginalized groups that have contributed toward American history — such as African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and Native Americans.
The courses key in on select marginalized groups that have contributed toward American history — such as African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Los Angeles School District, the second-largest in the nation, had already voted last year to require an ethnic studies course a requirement by the 2023-2024 school year, KTLA reported.

Newsom additionally signed legislation requiring public schools and colleges to offer free menstruation products in all restrooms.

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