Governor Brown Signs Ethnic Studies Bill in California

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With little fanfare, Governor Jerry Brown of California has signed a bill requiring every school district and charter school to offer an ethnic studies class in high school.

The bill becomes effective in the 2020-21 school year, giving school districts time to develop their curriculum.

Protestors in Los Angeles advocate for Ethnic Studies (2014)

It was authored by Assemblyperson Luis Alejo (D-Salinas Valley) who is chair of the California Latino Legislative Caucus. The course would teach about the historic contributions and struggles of Asian Americans, African Americans, Latinos and other minorities in the United States. It’s an answer to the Eurocentric courses currently offered in most schools.

“AB 2016 will give California public high school districts and charter schools a comprehensive ethnic studies curriculum that will be available to all students as an elective,” Alejo said. “The development of a comprehensive ethnic studies curriculum acknowledges the diversity of California, which has the most ethnically diverse public school student body in the nation. After recent studies, we now have conclusive evidence that ethnic studies courses have helped students of color remain academically engaged and have improved test scores and graduation rates.”

The bill puts the rest of the state closer in line with the Los Angeles Unified and San Francisco Unified School Districts which have both added ethnic studies courses in recent years. The cities of Oakland and San Diego are in the process of doing the same.

Read more here.