California to make critical race theory a high school graduation requirement

On Friday, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill that makes the state the first in the country to require ethnic studies courses for all public high school students mandatory to graduate.

Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

Starting with the 2029 - 2030 school year, California high school students will be required to take a course on ethnic studies alongside the traditionally required English, math, and science classes to graduate high school.

On Friday, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill that makes the state the first in the country to require ethnic studies courses for all public high school students mandatory to graduate, according to ABC 7.

The author of the critical race theory legislation that has been in the workings for years, Assemblyman Jose Medina, called the bill a huge step for California.

"It's been a long wait," said Medina. "I think schools are ready now to make curriculum that is more equitable and more reflective of social justice."

According to ABC 7, "The new law requires all public schools in the state to offer at least one ethnic studies course starting in the 2025-26 school year and requires students graduating in the 2029-30 school year to have completed a one-semester course in the subject."

The new legislation offers a few years so that schools can prepare and refine course loads and content.

"Schools can't just flip the switch and be ready. This gives school districts plenty of time to get their curriculum in place and hire well qualified teachers to teach these classes," Medina said.

According to ABC 7, "The model curriculum focuses on four historically marginalized groups that are central to college-level ethnic studies: African Americans, Chicanos and other Latinos, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and Native Americans."

It also reportedly includes lesson plans on groups that are not traditionally part of ethnic studies curriculum, including Jews, Armenian Americans, Arab Americans, and Sihk Americans.

Those groups were reportedly added after objections were raised to an earlier draft that left them out.

The state-wide legislation follows in the footsteps of several of California's largest school districts, which have already implemented their version of this bill.

The Los Angeles Unified School District reportedly voted last year to make ethnic studies part of their graduation requirements by the 2023 - 24 school year.

The Fresno Unified school board also voted last year to require two semester of ethnic studies courses for students entering high school this year.

In San Francisco, which has offered ethnic studies as an elective since 2015 to high school students, students will be required to take two semesters of ethnic studies courses to graduate beginning in 2028.


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