CA, NV Lawmakers Push To Make Ethnic Studies Course Mandatory For Public High School Students

SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — Proposals that would make a class in ethnic studies mandatory for all high school students are being considered by legislators in California and Nevada. The bills would make the courses a graduation requirement.

Nevada Senators Tick Segerblom (D) and Becky Harris (R) co-sponsored SB 211 which would require all Nevada high school students to pass a course in ethnic studies. That bill was scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Education committee on Thursday.

If passed, the Nevada bill would require public high schools in all districts to establish a course “which must include instruction concerning the culture, history and contributions of African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, European Americans, Basque Americans and any other ethnic Americans deemed appropriate, with emphasis on human relations and sensitivity toward all races.”

California Assemblyman Luis Alejo (D) introduced AB 1750 last month which would require the teaching of ethnic studies in all California public high schools. San Francisco and Los Angeles have already implemented district-wide mandates, but AB 1750 would create a task force to identify curricula for establishing and implementing ethnic studies classes in public high schools statewide.

“Due to the diverse demographics of our state, public schools should have the opportunity to improve human relations and enhance socio-cultural understanding,” said Alejo. “AB 1750 provides the best way for our students to appreciate the history, culture and contributions of the African American, Asian American, America Indian and Chicano/Latino populations of our State.”

Meanwhile in nearby Arizona, a federal court is considering the constitutionality of ARS 15-112, a state law that recently banned ethnic studies courses in that state. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to render a decision by later this year.

Arizona’s Governor Jan Brewer supported the ban which contends that ethnic studies classes promote resentment and encourage students to want to “overthrow” the U.S. government.

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