Require ethnic studies to graduate high school?

California inches closer to the idea

Source: CALmatters by Elizabeth Castillo

“This needs to be taught,” said the bill’s author, Democratic Assemblymember Jose Medina of Riverside. “I don’t know how a person can say they’re educated without knowledge of other groups, other cultures, other histories.”

This week the Legislature—which had been considering a bill to make California the first state to require ethnic studies for high school graduation—backed away from creating such a statewide mandate, citing costs estimated to top $400 million. Sponsors settled on a pilot program instead.

The pilot would cover 10 to 15 school districts across the state that will opt in to have ethnic studies as a graduation requirement. Schools would begin applying next year and the program would create the requirement for some students as early as 2022, with schools reporting their findings in 2024.

A state law passed in 2016 already encourages high schools to offer an elective course in ethnic studies, and requires the state to create a model curriculum for the class by 2020. Currently only 1 percent of California’s public high school students take ethnic studies.

Other states, including Indiana and Oregon, have also boosted instruction of ethnic studies in recent years.

“This needs to be taught,” said the bill’s author, Democratic Assemblymember Jose Medina of Riverside. “I don’t know how a person can say they’re educated without knowledge of other groups, other cultures, other histories.”