Assembly Bill 101 was signed by Governor Gavin Newsom on October 8, which will require all students to complete a semester-long ethnic studies course in order to receive a high school diploma. The mandate will go into effect with the graduating class of 2029-30.
“Ethnic studies courses enable students to learn their own stories, and those of their classmates and a number of studies have shown that these courses boost student achievement over the long run– especially among students of color,” said Governor Newsom, adding
“America is shaped by our shared history, much of it painful and etched with woeful injustice. Students deserve to see themselves in their studies, and they must understand our nation’s full history if we expect them to one day build a more just society.”
California legislators have been workshopping Assembly Bill 101 for five years. One year ago, the first draft of AB 101 was vetoed by Governor Newsom due to widespread disagreements regarding curriculum specifics of the required ethnic studies course.
The Instructional Quality Commission, which oversees curriculum development, went back to the drawing board to construct a curriculum inclusive of the four ethnic and racial groups whose history is traditionally overlooked: African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Asian Americans. The course curriculum in the final draft that finally passed on October 8 includes lesson plans on Sikh, Jewish, Arab, and Armenian Americans, which were left out in earlier drafts of the bill.