While school officials are arguing in board meetings about teaching critical race theory and the truth about American history, Gov. Gavin Newsom just passed a law making ethnic studies a high school graduation requirement in California.
The law, AB 101, will require public high schools to offer ethnic studies courses in 2025 and make completion of one course mandatory for the class graduating in 2030.
According to CBS 8, Newsom vetoed a similar bill last year calling the proposed curriculum “insufficiently balanced.” Revisions were made to be more inclusive of Black, Asian, Latino, Native/Indigenous Americans and other communities that have been historically marginalized. The state Board of Education incorporated the revisions earlier this year. Newsom signed the bill on Friday afternoon.
Here’s more on the new law from the Los Angeles Times:
The signing was lauded by Assemblyman Jose Medina (D-Riverside), the bill‘s author. Medina called the new requirement “long overdue” and “one step in the long struggle for equal education for all students.”
Ethnic studies in California classrooms will move forward as a compromise between advocates who wanted an activist, anti-imperialist approach and those who asserted that the first version of the state teaching guide was filled with radical ideology, obscure academic jargon and bias against capitalism.
Alterations toned down these elements and also added the experiences of Jewish, Armenian and Sikh communities in the U.S.
Some Californians are petitioning the law, finding that it gives teachers too much freedom to “indoctrinate” students.
“Yes, racism needs to be addressed. Injustices need to be addressed. However, it needs to be through accurate history, through facts. Not through perspective. Not through personal narratives,” said Masha Merkulova, founder and executive director of Club Z, an after-school club for Jewish teenagers, according to CBS 8. Merkulova said two of the three curriculum options are racist and anti-Semitic and use terms like “white supremacy” and “settler colonialism.”
Excuse me if I find it hard to recognize the problem with either of the terms.
Supporters of the original bill feel the changes have diluted what it intended to do: highlight the experiences of people of color. Changes to the bill included leaving out language that associated capitalism with oppression and incorporating lessons about Jewish and pro-Israel advocates, the Times reports.
“Ethnic studies courses enable students to learn their own stories — and those of their classmates,” Newsom said in a signing statement, according to the Times.
School districts will now use the state’s model curriculum to develop coursework.