Calif. becomes first state to require high schoolers take ethnic studies to graduate

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A new mandate has stated that California students will need to pass a course in ethnic studies in order to graduate from high school.

First of its kind: Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill on Friday that includes ethnic studies as a graduation requirement for all K-12 students beginning in the school year 2025-26, reported the Associated Press.

  • As soon as the mandate is in effect, all public schools in the state will be required to offer at least one ethnic studies course.

  • Students should have completed a one-semester course in the subject by the year they graduate.

  • The new ethnic studies course will be added to other standard graduation requirements, including English, social studies, math and science.

  • This legislation marks the first state-wide mandate that ensures high school students will learn about the historically ignored subject.

  • Assemblyman Jose Medina (D-Riverside), who authored the bill, noted the “long wait” while highlighting the readiness of today’s schools in creating a curriculum that is “more equitable and more reflective of social justice.”

  • The state will allocate $50 million from this year’s budget to help schools develop ethnic studies curriculums.

A long struggle: Calls to include ethnic studies in schools began in the late ‘60s when Californian students demanded courses in African American, Chicano, Asian American and Native American studies.

  • Earlier this year, California’s Board of Education also approved an optional model ethnic studies curriculum that focuses on the four historically marginalized groups, reported the Los Angeles Times.

  • The model curriculum, which underwent several revisions and debates, offers lesson plans and instructional suggestions that schools may choose to adopt or use as a guide.

  • It also now allows the inclusion of lesson plans covering Jews, Arab Americans, Sikh Americans and Armenian Americans.

Featured Image via Charlotte May

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