Many moons ago, when I was a student at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles, the Black Student Union organized a protest and sit-in in the principal’s office because they weren’t going to allow us to put on a talent show for the whole school, and they took away a black-history class that was taught by one of our favorite black teachers on campus, Mrs. Head.
Times have definitely changed, and what was once considered an elective course could become a high school graduation requirement if one California assemblyman has his way. Time magazine reports that Democrat Jose Medina has introduced A.B. 2772, which would make it mandatory for all high school students to complete an ethnic-studies course in order to graduate.
If passed, the rule would begin during the 2023-2024 school year.
“Without knowledge of other cultural experiences and the history of those ethnic and cultural groups,” Medina told Time, “I don’t think you can call yourself an educated person.”
Medina said that he would have introduced his bill no matter who was in the White House, but Donald Trump as president “adds to the impetus” to do it now.
As it stands, the history that is taught in our nation’s schools is very much white-centered and told from a white male, Eurocentric perspective.
Medina sees adding ethnics studies as a means of allowing all students to see themselves in the material that’s presented to them at school.
“A student’s learning about their own history, their own culture,” Medina said. “That’s empowering.”
According to Time, Arizona Republican lawmakers have argued that creating ethnic-studies classes can increase racial tensions and the divide between ethnic groups because they teach students to view individuals around them as either the oppressed or the oppressors.
Which ... I mean ... it’s true, right?
Medina sees it differently, however.
“We do not need to fear knowledge,” he said. “When we offer students a better understanding, a more complete understanding of our nation’s history, that is nothing to fear. It is something we should celebrate.”
Currently, California schools are only encouraged to offer ethnic-studies classes. Medina’s bill would make it law.
“There is a void of teaching what I think is essential information,” he said.