Why one California lawmaker wants to mandate ethnic studies in high schools

Source: A Martínez, Take Two, KPCC 89.3

"I was a teacher in a Riverside high school, and I had the opportunity to teach Chicano studies," Medina said. "I saw firsthand how my students felt empowered by the material they were learning."

The historical contributions of minorities are often left out of textbooks. But California Assemblyman Jose Medina (D-Riverside) hopes to change that. 

He has proposed a bill that would make ethnic studies mandatory for high school students. In order to graduate, the students would need to take a class focused on minorities' perspectives. 


Take Two spoke with Assemblyman Medina about incorporating ethnic studies into California's curriculum.

"I was a teacher in a Riverside high school, and I had the opportunity to teach Chicano studies," Medina said. "I saw firsthand how my students felt empowered by the material they were learning."

The bill, if passed, wouldn't be implemented until 2020. The window gives the Department of Education  time to fine tune curriculum for classes throughout the state. 

"By making it a requirement, people will be able to learn the rich history of Latin Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans," Medina said. "It will fill in the gap that's been missing for so many years."