Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Governor Brown signs bill to establish ethnic studies as an elective in California high schools

Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 2016, which will for the first time establish a model ethnic studies curriculum for use in California’s public and charter high schools.

It’s the first legislation of its kind in the nation, creating a statewide model curriculum for ethnic studies, and countering trends seen in other states that are abolishing or restricting ethnic studies courses, most recently in Arizona.

“This is historic,” said in a statement Assemblyman Luis Alejo, who authored the bill. “I thank the governor for recognizing the importance and value of having ethnic studies available to our students."

A study published earlier this year by the Stanford Graduate School of Education found that students at risk of dropping out who took ethnic studies courses improved their attendance and academic performance significantly, especially Latino students, Alejo said.

AB 2016 had bipartisan support in both houses of the Legislature. This legislation directs the California Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) and the State Board of Education (SBE) to develop and adopt a model ethnic studies curriculum, to serve as guide for local school districts to adapt their coursework to reflect the student demographics in their communities.

This curriculum will be developed with participation from faculty of ethnic studies programs at California universities and public school teachers who have a background in teaching ethnic studies.

AB 2016 directs the IQC to draft and submit a model curriculum to the SBE by June 30, 2019 and the SBE to adopt a model curriculum by Nov. 30, 2019.

Once adopted, school districts and charter schools that don’t already have a standards-based ethnic studies program would be encouraged to offer a course based on the model curriculum to high school students as a social sciences or English language arts elective.

“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,” Alejo said. “Ethnic studies are not just for students of color. We should give all students the opportunity to prepare for a diverse global economy, diverse university campuses and diverse workplaces.”

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