California’s student population is highly diverse – less than a quarter of public K-12 students are white. Newsom said that through ethnic studies courses, students can learn their own stories as well as those of their classmates.
“America is shaped by our shared history, much of it surrounded by painful and horrific injustices,” Newsom wrote in his signature message. “Students deserve to see themselves in their studies, and they must understand the entire history of our country if we expect them to one day build a more just society.”
What exactly is the new law?
Assembly Bill 101 adds one semester of ethnic studies to the state’s high school graduation requirements.
It will introduce high school students to concepts usually reserved for the collegiate level.
Not only did ethnic studies originate on a Bay Area college campus, but it is already a graduate requirement at some campuses in California community colleges, the California State University system, and the University of California.
The specifics of what will be taught in high schools are up to the local districts.
The nearly 900-page model curriculum approved by the California Department of Education this year includes dozens of sample lessons, such as “#BlackLivesMatter and Social Change,” “Chinese Railroad Workers” and “American Housing Inequality: Redlining and Racial Housing Contracts.”
Whom does it affect?
The first high schoolers subject to the new mandate are those who graduate in the 2029-30 academic year. Schools are not required to begin offering ethnic studies courses until 2025.
This requirement applies to all California public schools students, including charter ones. There are currently about 1.7 million public high school students in the state.
Is anyone else doing this?
Several districts in California have already added ethnic studies to their high school graduation requirements, including the San Diego, San Francisco, Fresno and Los Angeles Unified School Districts.
In 2017, Oregon passed a law that integrated ethnic studies concepts into existing social studies courses for K-12 students. The rule differs from California in that it does not create a separate curriculum focused on ethnic studies.
Who opposes the law?
California has been working for years on developing a model ethnic studies curriculum, but the initial draft faced heavy backlash from several quarters. Amid these concerns, Newsom vetoed a nearly identical version of the bill last year.
A previous draft of the state’s teaching guide was criticized as too left-leaning, loaded with jargon and promoting the “critical race theory”, an academic concept that argues racism, American laws and vested in government institutions.
There was also condemnation from Jewish groups, who felt that the curriculum emphasized Palestinian oppression, while barely mentioning the Holocaust, as well as excluded other ethnic groups.
As The Los Angeles Times reports, the final version of the state curriculum, approved this March, removed references to offending Jewish groups while adding lessons about the experiences of Jews, Arabs and Sikhs in America. It also influenced words such as “cischteropatriarchy” and “hxrstory”, as well as language linking capitalism to oppression.
Yet critics remain. Some proponents of the original guidelines believe that the scope should not have been expanded beyond the four ethnic groups that lived in the Americas before the arrival of Europeans.
Others find the current version still too radical. Williamson M. Evers, a former assistant secretary at the US Department of Education, told The Los Angeles Times that the model curriculum was “infested” with “racially divisive and cynical ideology burdened with” material.
As districts across the state figure out how to implement this new mandate, the debate will undoubtedly continue.
what are we eating
The tiny bits of cream cheese in these pumpkin muffins make for a rich and creamy treat.
where are we traveling
TODAY’s travel tip comes from Barry Goldberg, a reader who lives in Durham, NC:
I have been coming to California for the holidays for over 50 years. Consistently, my wife and I love Point Reyes National Seashore. Walking to Drax Beach, going up and down the stairs to the lighthouse on a clear day, glimpses of tulle elk in the northern part of the park are all magical experiences. We never get tired of this area.
Tell us about your favorite places to visit in California. Email your suggestions at CAtoday@nytimes.com. We will share more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.
what are we recommending
These 10 new books.
And before we go, some good news
It may have caught the attention of Charlie Brown: First place in Half Moon Bay’s annual competition came in at £2,191, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.
Half Moon Bay, a coastal town south of San Francisco that has earned the title of “The Pumpkin Capital,” has been hosting the contest for nearly half a century.
Here’s some fun back story from the article:
“Four-time Half Moon Bay mayor Al Adreveno, 96, addressed the crowd to give a brief history of how the city reinvented itself as the ‘pumpkin capital of the world.
In the 1970s, Adreveno said he was introduced to the mayor of Circleville, Ohio, which also declared itself the Pumpkin Capital of the World. The two cities challenged each other to a weight-off held outside City Hall in 1974.
Half Moon Bay won – by a pound, he said.
Thanks for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. – Soumya
ps is here Today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: surprise ending (5 characters).