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California becomes 1st state to require ethnic studies

In an historic move, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill today that will require his state’s high school students to take ethnic studies to graduate.

The Los Angeles Times reports Newsom signed an almost identical bill that he vetoed last year.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the bill by Assembly Member Jose Medina (D-Riverside) focuses on four oppressed groups, African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos and Native Americans.

Guidelines passed also include lessons on Jews, Armenians and Sikhs which helped ease some of the earlier opposition to the bill.

“The inclusion of ethnic studies in the high school curriculum is long overdue,” Medina said in a statement. “The signing of AB 101 today is one step in the long struggle for equal education for all students.”

Politico reports that Newsom cited a Stanford University study when signing the bill. That study cited that the bill will “boost academic achievement and attainment.”

Local school districts will have the opportunity to implement their own plans under the bill, supposedly to reflect the population of its community.

Newsom vetoed a similar bill last year after Jewish and Arab American organizations expressed concerns about omissions from the bill.

“It’s high time that we addressed the demographic imperative,” said Theresa Montaño, professor of Chicana/o studies at Cal State Northridge. “In California, 70% of students are students of color. They go through 12 years of an education — taking everything from mathematics to biology — and yet it’s taken 53 years to get a single course in something that is relevant to their own personal historical trajectory,” she said to The Times.

RELATED: The Invisibility of Asians in America and the solution

In July, Illinois became the first state in the nation to require the teaching of Asian American Studies in its schools.

This is all part of a growing movement in the country for a more inclusive curriculum in our schools as the nation grapples with the racial divide evident in the country.

Some of the debate has been side tracked by the controversy over critical race theory, with some states actually banning its teaching.

RELATED: What does critical race theory mean to AAPIs

Critical race theory analyzes how racism in America is embedded in institutions in the country-both governmental and in the private sector.

Under AB101, ethnic studies in California won’t be a graduation requirement until 2029, but high schools will be required to teach it beginning in 2025, according to Politico.

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