Gavin Newsom vetoes ethnic studies bill


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Governor (Gov.) Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill mandating ethnic studies as a high school graduation requirement on Wednesday, Sept. 30.

In his veto statement on Assembly Bill (AB) 331, Gov. Newsom argues the proposed ethnic studies model still needs revision, citing the disagreements over which ethnics groups should be included in the curriculum. 

“I value the role ethnic studies plays in helping students think critically about our history and understand the experience of marginalized communities in our state,” Newsom said. “This academic discipline will help prepare our young adults to become civically engaged and participate fully in our democracy…However, in my opinion, the latest draft, which is currently out for review, still needs revision.”

Starting with the high school class of 2030, the bill would require high school students to take one year of ethnic studies in order to graduate. The bill would also mandate public schools to offer a semester-long ethnic studies course starting in 2025. 

“Ethnic studies in high school will effectively educate our youth on racial diversity,” IUSD parent Wayne Pan said. “Especially in light of the Black Lives Matter Movement, it is really important for students to celebrate each others’ ethnicities and understand racial biases. The bill should be passed in the new future.”

School districts and charter schools would establish the curriculum they will offer. The model curriculum draft focuses on the contributions of African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and Native Americans. Critics argue the curriculum favors certain ethnics groups over others. 

“Ethnic studies helps us move toward a future of more inclusive people,” sophomore Megan Lai said. “Inclusivity of people of all ethnicities is important for the curriculum because it will help students fully understand where all their peers come from. Students should learn from textbooks that include content about people all over the world and not from filtered textbooks only teaching certain aspects of our history.”

The bill’s author, Assemblyman Jose Medina, will introduce the bill for a third time in 2021.