SACRAMENTO— On Wednesday, Assemblymember Jose Medina’s (D-Riverside) Assembly Bill 101, which would make ethnic studies a California high school graduation requirement, passed the California State Legislature.
The bill passed the State Assembly in a 59-12 vote and out of the State Senate in a 29-8 vote on Sept. 8.
Supported by State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Thurmond and a coalition of educators, students, and advocates across the state, AB 101 would require high schools to offer ethnic studies courses beginning in the academic year 2025-26 and make the course a graduation requirement commencing in 2029-2030. This gives schools and districts plenty of time to prepare for a smooth implementation and the adoption of this requirement.
“Requiring ethnic studies in high schools is an integral part of cultivating a classroom environment that is accepting of diversity. It is vital for young people to learn about their history, it is also important for them to feel like they can contribute to their communities in positive ways. This bill comes after decades of struggles and countless efforts by students, teachers, and legislators to diversify curriculum in both K-12 and higher education.
The work that went into designing the final version of AB 101 embodies the very purpose of ethnic studies: the coming together of five diverse caucuses to share their stories, empower one another, and to represent the communities they come from.”
AB 101 now moves to Governor Newsom’s Desk for a signature.
Here is what Medina said back in April after the bill made it out of committee:
AB 101 would add the completion of a course in ethnic studies based on model curriculum or existing ethnic studies course that meets the A-G requirement, starting in the 2025-26 school year, and would require all students to have taken one semester course in ethnic studies for students graduating in 2029-30.
AB 101 would update high school curriculum and make it reflective of California’s diverse population.
“Knowledge of history plays a critical role in shaping who we become. When I was growing up, the history teacher of those who look like me was not represented in the classroom. As a former Ethnic Studies teacher, I saw firsthand how much engaged my students were when they saw themselves reflected in the coursework. In order to build racial justice in this state and country, all of our students need to learn the real history of America – that history includes the diverse experience and perspectives of people of color. I remain committed to ensuring we can make Ethnic Studies a high school graduation requirement,” stated Medina.
The bill was introduced in January by Medina.
“When you see yourself represented in what you are learning, you are more likely to want to learn, to want to read that textbook or that literature book and study how your ancestors have contributed, said Michelle Alas, student, Northgate High School in Walnut Creek, and member of Generation Up.
“Ethnic studies will serve as a preventative measure for further societal inequities and will be the basis of permissive and civically aware mindsets, said Sanya Dhama, student, Santiago High School in Corona, and member of California Association of Student Councils (CASC). “By congregating, increasing cultural competence, and connecting with each member of our diverse community, we will work towards a more unified community and country.”
“As civil unrest and racial tension have risen across the nation, ethnic studies provides hope for fostering understanding and unity,” said Assemblymember Jose Medina. “Requiring ethnic studies to be taught in high schools ensures that our state’s diversity is reflected in our education system. It is vital for students to learn about their history. This empowers students because they see their backgrounds, cultures, and experiences reflected in their studies for the first time. AB 101 is necessary to ensure all students develop a foundational and accurate understanding of United States history. I am re-introducing this bill because we can’t afford to wait any longer. The time is now to ensure ethnic studies for all by making it a high school graduation requirement.”