Medina Bill to Require Ethnic Studies for All Passes Senate Appropriations Committee

Thursday, August 20, 2020

SACRAMENTO— Today, Assemblymember Jose Medina’s (D-Riverside) bill, AB 331, which would make ethnic studies a California high school graduation requirement, passed the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Supported by State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Thurmond, and a coalition of educators, students, and advocates across the state, AB 331 will require high school students to take one semester of ethnic studies in order to graduate.

Acknowledging the current economic crisis and capacity challenges facing schools across the state due to the pandemic, amendments were made while in Committee to push back the implementation date of the bill. Should AB 331 be signed into law, high schools will need to offer ethnic studies courses starting academic year 2025-26 and the subject will be required for graduation commencing in 2029-2030. Additionally, this requirement will only go into effect upon appropriation. This gives schools and districts plenty of time to prepare for a smooth implementation and provides the State time to recover from the economic crisis and identify and allocate funds to support the adoption of this requirement.

Amendments also clarify that schools that already offer A-G approved ethnic studies courses can continue to use existing courses to meet the new requirement, in addition to use of the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum. This provides schools with further flexibility to meet the needs of their local student population.

“For too long, the experiences and contributions of people of color have been left out of the classroom,” said Assemblymember Jose Medina. “Ethnic studies courses empower students and help build culturally competent citizens. Requiring ethnic studies will help ensure that all students learn a more holistic and representative history of the United States and foster a deeper understanding of our commonalities and differences. I’m grateful that Chair Anthony Portantino and my colleagues on the Senate Appropriations Committee recognize the urgent need for ethnic studies in our schools and am thankful for their support.”

AB 331 now moves to the Senate Floor for a vote. A signature from Governor Newsom would make this the first time in decades that a new course is added as a California high school graduation requirement.
 

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Contact: Kelly Reynolds (916) 319-2061