States

California Governor Signs Law to Create First State Ethnic Studies Curriculum

By Jaclyn Zubrzycki — September 16, 2016 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

California will be the first state to create a guide to teaching classes on ethnic studies, after Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB2016, a law that requires the state to create, review, and adopt a model curriculum by the end of 2019.

The new law had a long and convoluted journey through the state’s legislative process: California Assembly member Luis Alejo, a Democrat, who introduced the bill, first worked on the topic as a legislative aide more than 14 years ago. A similar bill was passed by the state’s assembly last year but was not signed by Gov. Brown.

More than two dozen California schools and districts are already offering ethnic studies courses. And a group of researchers at Stanford University found that ethnic studies courses were associated with improved academic outcomes and attendance for students in San Francisco.

But the teaching of ethnic studies remains controversial, and just what content should be included in the courses is equally political. Even as California is embracing the subject, ethnic studies courses are still banned in Arizona, where legislators were concerned that the class encouraged Latino students to resent white people. And in Texas, the state’s call for a textbook on Mexican-American studies yielded a textbook that critics are calling racist.

The California law does not require high schools to offer the class. Once the model curriculum is finished, schools will be “encouraged” to offer an ethnic studies course as an elective.

Most ethnic studies classes are created by individual teachers or districts. Some cover one particular group’s history or stories— say, Mexican-American history—while others cover multiple groups. Many are interdisciplinary, including literature, music, science and culture as well as history.

Advocates argued that creating a model template will help guide teachers and districts and ensure that classes are substantive and effective.

“We did it! Sí, se puede! Sí, se pudo!!” wrote José Lara, the coordinating committee member of the Ethnic Studies Now! Coalition, in an email to supporters announcing the bill signing.

Lara wrote that the law will help students learn and think critically about diverse histories, cultures, and sciences. The coalition will continue to advocate for school districts to adopt ethnic studies and examine the curricula that is being used in schools.


Related stories:


For more news and information on curriculum and instruction:

And sign up here to get alerts in your email inbox when stories are published on Curriculum Matters.

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

States During Site Visit From Cardona, Illinois Governor Defends Vaccine, Testing Policies
“The testing regimen is there in order to make sure that they’re not entering the institution where they work and spreading COVID-19.”
Karen Ann Cullotta, Chicago Tribune
3 min read
The Student Council lead the creation of “sensory hallways” at Western Branch Middle School in Chesapeake, Va.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona looks on as Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks with reporters after touring Access Hawthorne Family Health Center, which is offering COVID-19 vaccines at 3040 S. Cicero Ave. in Cicero, as part of the Department of Education's "Return to School Road Trip" events in the Chicago area, Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 21, 2021.
Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times via AP
States Kentucky Ends All Statewide Mask Mandates After Governor's Vetoes Overridden
The Republican-led legislation strips the Democratic governor's ability to issue statewide mask mandates in schools or anywhere else.
Jack Brammer and Alex Acquisto, Lexington Herald-Leader
4 min read
In this Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, file photo, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear addresses the media in Frankfort, Ky. Kentucky's governor said Sunday, Oct. 11, that he will quarantine after a member of his security detail who drove with his family the day before later tested positive for COVID-19. Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear said he and his family feel fine, show no coronavirus symptoms and have tested negative for the virus.
In this Sept. 23, 2020, file photo, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear addresses the media in Frankfort, Ky.
Timothy D. Easley/AP
States Bill to Restrict How Race and Racism Is Taught in Schools Headed to Texas Governor
If the "critical race theory" bill sounds familiar, that's because lawmakers passed a similar one during the regular legislative session.
Eleanor Dearman, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
4 min read
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at a news conference in Austin, Texas, on June 8, 2021.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at a news conference in Austin, Texas, on June 8, 2021.
Eric Gay/AP
States Infographic Which States Are Reporting COVID-19 Cases in Schools?
Some states are reporting the number of COVID-19 cases in their schools and districts. Use this table to find your state's data.
Image shows the coronavirus along with data charts and numbers.
iStock/Getty Images Plus