California is now the first state to require students to take an ethnic study course to complete high school.
Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomCalifornia Becomes First State to Ban ‘Steal’ Overnight Energy & Environment: White House Restores Parts of Trump-Repealed Environmental Protection Act Equilibrium / Sustainability-Presented by The American Petroleum Institute-NASA to Release ‘Planetary Defense’ Tech Against Asteroids MORE (D) Friday signed Legislative Assembly Bill 101, which requires local education agencies and charter schools serving students in grades nine through 12 to offer one-year ethnic studies in a semester beginning in the school year 2025-2026, the governor’s office said in a declaration.
The legislation also requires students to complete such a course, beginning with the graduating class 2029-2030.
In a letter announcing the signing, Newsom said ethnic study courses “enable students to learn their own and their classmates’ stories” and “increase student achievement in the long run – especially among the colorful.”
“America is shaped by our common history, much of it painful and etched with terrible injustice,” he wrote. “Students deserve to see themselves in their studies, and they must understand the full history of our country if we are to expect them to one day build a more just society.”
Friday’s signature comes after five years of scrutiny over the bill. Newsom rejected an almost identical version last year because he wanted the curriculum for ethnic studies to be more inclusive, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The California Board of Education adopted a model plan for ethnic studies in March that focuses on African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans and Indigenous peoples, according to The Associated Press.
The curriculum also reportedly includes lesson plans on Jewish Americans, Arab Americans, Sikh Americans, and Armenian Americans.
California law comes amid pressure from conservatives to limit the teaching of certain topics around race, especially critical race theory.
The theory, developed decades ago, examines the role that institutional racism played in founding the nation. Several states have either considered enacting or enacting legislation that prohibits it.