California Mandates High School Students Take Ethnic Studies to Graduate

In Summary

The state becomes the first in the country to make ethnic studies a requirement to earn a high school diploma.  

California high school students will have to take an ethnic studies class to graduate starting in the 2029-30 school year, the Associated Press reported.   

The bill, signed into law on Friday by Gov. Gavin Newsom, makes California the first state requiring ethnic studies to get a diploma.   

“It’s been a long wait,” assemblyman Jose Medina said. “I think schools are ready now to make curriculum that is more equitable and more reflective of social justice.”  

Beginning in the 2025-26 school year, public schools must offer at least one ethnic studies class, per AP.   

Ethnic studies will join English, math, science and social studies as requirements to graduate.   

“Schools can’t just flip the switch and be ready. This gives school districts plenty of time to get their curriculum in place and hire well qualified teachers to teach these classes,” Medina said.  

In contrast, legislators from several GOP-led states, such as Texas, have introduced or passed laws that ban critical race theory, which looks at how race and racism are intertwined socially, culturally and legally in society. 

RELATED: Texas bill bans schools from requiring lessons on Critical Race Theory

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