CALIFORNIA, USA – California will now be the first state to make ethnic studies a graduation requirement for high school students.
On Friday afternoon, Governor Gavin Newsom promulgated AB 101.
AB 101 Requires secondary schools to offer ethnic studies courses from 2025 and make the completion of a one-semester course a requirement for graduation from the 2029 school year.
“What’s the rush?” What we are asking for is to take a break from it “, Masha Merkulova, Founder and Executive Director of Club Z, an after-school club for Jewish teens, said.
She was among several Californians who filed a petition against it, in part because it does not impose the curriculum used by teachers.
“There is no control. A teacher who is an activist can bring whatever he wants to the class. It does not need to be approved,” Merkulova said.
Of the three program options available, Merkulova said two were racist and anti-Semitic, using terms such as “white supremacy” and “settler colonialism”.
“Yes, racism must be fought. Injustices must be fought. However, it must be done through a precise story, through facts. Not through a perspective. Not through personal accounts,” Merkulova said.
“It is certainly not a racist program,” said Dr Sean Arce, who teaches Chicano studies to high school and middle school students.
Dr Arce is also a member of the Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Coalition, an educational advisory group that worked to create the courses that teachers should choose from under AB 101.
They argue that ethnic studies are necessary to understand the history of our state, adding that there are parameters in place.
“We have fought for 52 years for a requirement of ethnic studies for the majority population of students of color in California. The program framework is up to each district within reason. We are a discipline. We have principles.” said Dr Theresa Motano, LESMC member.
Last year, Newsom vetoed a similar bill, saying the program was “insufficiently balanced”.
Revisions were made and it was adopted by the State Board of Education last March.
Following today’s signing, AMCHA, an anti-Semitism watchdog group, released a statement writing:
âHaving closely monitored and studied the conduct of ethnic studies on college campuses for years, especially in California, to say we are deeply concerned is an understatement. While not all players in the field of ethnic studies fall into this category, there is a loud and active faction of extremists who have long sought to inject their anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist agenda into the classrooms of our country, and today this faction has succeeded. It’s a dark day for Jewish students in California and dozens of other states that historically follow California’s lead.
âThe fact that as many as seven ‘guardrails’ were deemed necessary to prevent AB 101 from facilitating the widespread promotion of anti-Semitism is in itself a startling indictment against the bill and the dangers it faces. ‘he represents for Jewish students and the Jewish community. And according to the law, these so-called guardrails are purely optical. They carry no weight when it comes to preventing school districts from bringing the original rejected and blatantly anti-Semitic ESMC or its much worse cousin Liberated into the classroom.
To make matters worse, California teachers’ unions and ethnic studies departments at public universities proudly support these blatantly anti-Semitic programs. Both the original ESMC project and the Liberated curriculum are endorsed by the two largest teacher unions in California and by the Ethnic Studies departments and faculties on Cal State and Cal State campuses. University of California.
âThis bill could and should have been stopped at the legislative level and should not be forced on the Jewish community to fight in each of the 1,300 school districts in California. We surely hope that those who guaranteed the safeguards would prevent anti-Semitic curricula from infiltrating our state’s high schools, stand ready to keep their pledge, for this enormous responsibility should fall on their shoulders, and not on parents and students.
WATCH: CSU Ethnic Studies Class Bill Awaits Governor’s Decision (Aug 2020)