California’s student population is very diverse: Less than a quarter of public K-12 students are white. Ethnic studies courses allow students to learn their own stories, as well as those of their classmates, Newsom said.
“America is shaped by our shared history, much of it painful and etched with pitiful injustice,” Newsom wrote in his signature message. “Students deserve to see themselves in their studies, and they must understand the full history of our nation if we expect them to one day build a more just society.”
What exactly is the new law?
Assembly Act 101 adds a semester of ethnic studies to the state’s high school graduation requirements.
This will introduce high school students to concepts typically reserved for the collegiate level.
Ethnic studies were not only born on a Bay Area college campus, but it is already a requirement to graduate from California community colleges, the California State University system, and some University of California campuses.
The details of what is taught in high schools are up to the local districts.
The nearly 900-page model curriculum approved this year by the California Department of Education includes dozens of sample lessons, such as “#BlackLivesMatter and Social Change,” “Chinese Railroad Workers,” and “US Housing Inequality: Redlining and Racial Housing Covenants.”
Who does this affect?
The first high school students to fall under the new mandate will be those graduating in the 2029-30 academic year. Schools don’t have to start offering ethnic studies courses until 2025.
The requirement applies to students from all California public schools, including charters. There are currently about 1.7 million public high school students in the state.
Is someone else doing this?
Several California districts have already added ethnic studies to their high school graduation requirements, including the San Diego, San Francisco, Fresno, and Los Angeles school districts.
In 2017, Oregon passed a law recommending that ethnic studies concepts be integrated into existing social studies courses for K-12 students. The rule differs from California in that it does not create a clear course focused on ethnic studies.
Who is against the law?
California has been developing a modeling plan for ethnic studies for years, but early concepts were heavily pushed back from many quarters. Amid these concerns, Newsom vetoed a nearly identical version of the bill last year.
Earlier versions of the state’s learning guide have been criticized as being too left-wing, full of jargon and promoting “critical race theory,” an academic concept that claims racism is ingrained in US laws and government institutions.
There was also condemnation from Jewish groups, who felt the curriculum emphasized Palestinian oppression while barely mentioning the Holocaust, as well as other ethnic groups who felt left out.
The final version of the state’s curriculum, approved in March, removed references that offended Jewish groups and added lessons about the experiences of Jews, Arabs and Sikhs in America, The Los Angeles Times reports. It also struck terms like “cisheteropatriarchy” and “hxrstory,” as well as language linking capitalism to oppression.
Still, critics remain. Some supporters of the original guidelines believe that the scope should not have been extended beyond the four ethnic groups that lived in the Americas before Europeans arrived.
Others find the current version still too radical. Williamson M. Evers, a former assistant secretary of the United States Department of Education, told The Los Angeles Times that the model curriculum was “infused” with content that made it “racially divisive and charged with fashionable ideology.”
As districts across the state figure out how to implement this new mandate, the debate will no doubt continue.
what we eat
Small chunks of cream cheese in these pumpkin muffins make for a rich and creamy treat.
Where we are traveling
Today’s travel tip comes from Barry Goldberg, a reader who lives in Durham, NC:
I have been coming to California for vacations for over 50 years now. Consistently, my wife and I love Point Reyes National Seashore. Walking on Drakes Beach, walking up and down the steps to the lighthouse on a clear day, glimpses of tulle moose 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 to CAtoday@nytimes.com. We will share more in upcoming editions of the newsletter.
What we recommend
These 10 new books.
And before you go, good news
This might catch Charlie Brown’s attention: The first-place pumpkin at Half Moon Bay’s annual contest came in at a whopping 2,191 pounds, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Half Moon Bay, a coastal town south of San Francisco that has been dubbed “The Pumpkin Capital,” has hosted the competition for nearly half a century.
Here’s a fun backstory from the article:
“Four-time mayor of Half Moon Bay, Al ADriveo, 96, addressed the crowd to give a brief history of how the city established itself as the ‘pumpkin capital of the world’.
In the 1970s, ADriveo said he was introduced to the mayor of Circleville, Ohio, who also declared himself the pumpkin capital of the world. The two cities challenged each other to a weigh-in, which was held outside City Hall in 1974.
Half Moon Bay won – by a pound, he said.”
Thank you for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow. — Soumya
PS Here is today’s mini crossword, and a clue: surprise ending (5 letters).