California makes ethnic studies a high school requirement

California

FILE – In this Jan. 22, 2020, file photo, Democratic Assembly members, from left, James Ramos, Chris Holden Jose Medina, and Rudy Salas, Jr., right, huddle during an Assembly session in Sacramento, Calif. Medina’s bill to make ethnic studies a high school requirement was signed into law by California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California high school students will have to take a course in ethnic studies to get a diploma starting in the 2029-30 school year.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill Friday that makes California among the first in the nation to list ethnic studies as a graduation requirement for all public high school students. 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.

Students graduating in 2029-30 will have to complete a one-semester course.

In a letter to the state assembly, Newsom said ethnic studies courses “enable students to learn their own stories, and those of their classmates, and a number of studies have shown that these courses boost student achievement over the long run – especially among students of color.”

“America is shaped by our shared history, much of it painful and etched with woeful injustice,” Newsom wrote. “Students deserve to see themselves in their studies, and they must understand our nation’s full history if we expect them to one day build a more just society.”

Assemblyman Jose Medina, a Democrat from Riverside, authored the legislation and says schools are ready to offer courses that are more reflective of social justice. He called the inclusion of such coursework “long overdue.”

“Students cannot have a full understanding of the history of our state and nation without the inclusion of the contributions and struggles of Native Americans, African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans,” Medina said in a statement. “I want to acknowledge the countless young people, high school and college students, teachers and professors, who have organized, demonstrated, boycotted classes, and gone on hunger strikes to demand a more equitable and inclusive educational system.

“The signing of AB 101 today is one step in the long struggle for equal education for all students.”

Read the full text of the new law here.

FOX 5’s Dillon Davis contributed to this report.

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