Gov. Gavin Newsom has recently signed legislation making California the first state to have a required ethnic studies class. In order for students to graduate high school, they will have to take a semester-long course. All schools must have an ethnic studies class as an elective in the 2025-26 school year, and have it as a required class in the 2029-30 school year.
We at The Olympian support the idea of a required ethnic studies class. Having an ethnic studies class will focus on Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, and other left-out groups that aren’t focused on in Eurocentric history classes.
Taking an ethnic studies class will also help all students to be better informed about other ethnic groups. When it is a required class, the material will be able to reach people who may have been hesitant to take the class if it was only an elective.
While having an ethnic studies class is a good idea, we at The Olympian also have some concerns about how the class will be run.
Since school districts are able to choose what they want to include in curriculum, different parts of California may be teaching students different things. One concern is that some school districts may choose to teach a watered-down version of the information, which would make it a less effective class.
There is also the issue of the class having to pick and choose which ethnic groups are included in the class. With so many ethnic groups, it would be extremely difficult to cover all of them in only a semester-long course.
Another question that we have would be how other history classes might change in response to the ethnic studies class. Nothing has been decided yet about what will be covered in the course. The Olympian suggests that when forming the curriculum for this course, students should be involved in the conversation.
Written by Megan Baldwin.