Gov. Jerry Brown signs bill to implement ethnic studies curriculum in all state schools

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Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill in September that will require an ethnic studies curriculum in all California public and charter high schools by 2019.

The State Board of Education is to develop a model curriculum by November 2019 to serve as a template for schools, which they can then adapt while taking into consideration their student bodies’ demographic make ups. The bill encourages schools without a pre-existing ethnic studies program to incorporate the model curriculum into a social sciences or language arts elective.

Faculty of university ethnic studies programs as well as public school teachers with experience in teaching such courses will help to develop the curriculum.

The bill was sponsored by Assemblymember Luis Alejo, the current chairman of the California Latino Legislative Caucus.

“This is historic,” Alejo said in a press release. “I thank the governor for recognizing the importance and value of having ethnic studies available to our students.”

Ethnic studies courses have had a history of long-term benefits for students, according to a Stanford University study. The study showed that students at risk of dropping out of high school who took ethnic studies courses improved their attendance and academic performance significantly.

Through the development of a comprehensive ethnic studies program, the state acknowledges the diversity in its public schools, which have the most diverse student body in the nation, Alejo said in a press release.

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

Contact Semira Sherief at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @semsherief1.