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State mandates ethnic studies

for high school graduation

 
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A mosaic of ethnic contribution to US history will now be taught in all California high schools as a mandate for graduation; a first in the nation. Courtesy UW-Madison University Communications

Governor signs legislation requiring high school students to take non-Eurocentric course

By NICK CAHILL, Contributing Writer / October 8, 2021

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) — California is the first state to mandate high school students study the historical prejudices minorities have faced in America as a graduate requirement, under legislation signed Friday by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Proponents say the mandated one-semester ethnic studies course is a badly needed update to the state’s curriculum that will give students a chance to learn “outside of the Euro-centric” teachings common in California high schools. AB 101, the first-of-a-kind legislation, requires high schools to start offering an ethnic studies course as an elective by the 2025-26 school year and as a mandatory class in 2029-30.

The mandate is not new to some California schools. San Francisco, Fresno, and San Diego Unified school districts already require ethnic studies courses for graduation. In a signing message, Newsom said the new social studies requirement will help students learn about the struggles faced by people of different ethnic backgrounds.

“America is shaped by our shared history, much of it painful and etched with woeful injustice,” wrote the governor. “Students deserve to see themselves in their studies, and they must understand our nation's full history if we expect them to one day build a more just society.” 

Newsom's statement cited a Stanford University study in claiming the coursework "will help expand educational opportunities in schools, teach students about the diverse communities that comprise California, and boost academic engagement and attainment for students."

Friday’s signing comes one year after Newsom vetoed a similar proposal due to concerns that the proposed curriculum wasn’t fully hatched or free from bias. He told lawmakers state education officials needed more time to craft an acceptable guide.

Former governor Jerry Brown also vetoed a similar legislative attempt in 2018, claiming a mandate was unnecessary as school districts could determine their curriculum.

GOP Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, who ran as a replacement candidate in the recent failed gubernatorial recall election, accused Newsom of flip-flopping on the topic of ethnic studies.

“Gavin Newsom has signed a bill to make critical race theory a high school graduation requirement, two years after saying the draft ethnic studies curriculum would ‘never see the light of day,’” Kiley said on Twitter. 

Last spring, the state Board of Education signed off on an ethnic studies model that focuses primarily on the struggles African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans have faced in previous centuries and decades.

While the bill asks school districts to consider the "lengthy, thorough, deliberative and inclusive process" the board took to create the curriculum, it is supposed to act as a guide, and each school district will be allowed to craft its courses.

Shortly after the board’s approval, Assemblyman Jose Medina, D-Riverside, reintroduced his landmark proposal, and it cleared the Legislature on Sept. 8 despite no support from state Republicans. 

“The inclusion of ethnic studies in the high school curriculum is long overdue,” Medina said in a statement. “The signing of AB 101 is one step in the long struggle for equal education for all students.”

Throughout the legislative process, Republicans ripped Medina’s proposal and said it would result in students learning critical race theory, a form of curriculum that examines systemic racism and historic patterns of discrimination in the US.

“Our kids aren’t born hating other people because of their race, they are taught that and the last thing we need is state-sanctioned racism being taught in our schools,” said GOP state Sen. Melissa Melendez before voting against AB 101.

Meanwhile, a non-profit called Californians for Equal Rights and several individuals sued the state and education officials over the ethnic studies curriculum model. Filed in San Diego County Superior Court, the non-profit claims the model favors religions over others and wants references to an Aztec prayer removed.

Courthouse News Service.

LA Rams, grocers, soft drink giant tackle hunger

LOS ANGELES (MNS) — The Los Angeles Rams are partnering with Albertsons/Vons/ Pavilions (AVP), and Pepsi to tackle food insecurity in under-resourced communities throughout Southern California with a series of initiatives that will feature Rams defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph Day and benefit three Feeding America network food banks in Los Angeles County, Orange County and Ventura County.

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Southern California residents will be able to support the efforts by redeeming eligible For U offers on Pepsi-Cola products at their local Albertsons, Vons or Pavilions stores between Oct. 13 and Dec. 28. For every redemption of eligible For U offers, Pepsi will donate the monetary equivalent of 10 meals to Feeding America, up to a maximum of 100,000 meals.

Mobile Food Distribution/Compton College

With the growing food insecurity of college students, the Rams, AVP, and Pepsi will team up with the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank to host a drive-through mobile food distribution at Compton College. Rams defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day, cheerleaders, and volunteers will serve an expected 800 Angelinos struggling with food insecurities and address the dramatic increase in demand for food assistance caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event occurs Oct. 12 from 1-3:30 p.m., at Compton College, 1111 E. Artesia Blvd., Compton, Calif. Joseph Day will be in attendance from 1-2 p.m.

Second Harvest Orange County College Pantry

Pepsi and AVP volunteers, Rams cheerleaders, and mascot Rampage will assemble meal packs for college students in support of Second Harvest Orange County’s College Pantry program. The food kits will feature produce, eggs, milk, and shelf stable goods.

With the exceptional increase in the cost of college tuition, many college students are skipping meals to pay for housing, books and other supplies while consuming cheaper and less healthy foods. The College Pantry program supports 14 different college campuses, provides access to nutritious food, and ensures that all students have enough to eat so they can successfully complete their studies.

The event occurs Oct. 28 from 9 a.m. to noon at Fullerton College, 321 E. Chapman Ave., Fullerton, Calif.

Thanksgiving food distribution Ventura County

In partnership with Food Share Ventura County, the Rams, AVP, and Pepsi volunteers will host a Thanksgiving drive-through food distribution for families in need. During the event, volunteers will assemble and distribute meal kits that include items such as a 12-15 lb. turkey, shelf-stable side items, and produce.

The food distribution occurs Nov. 22 from noon to 3 p.m., at College Park, 3250 Rose Ave., Oxnard, Calif. Joseph Day will also be in attendance.

Rams holiday food blitz distribution

To ensure Angelinos have healthy and nutritious food for the holidays, the Rams will team up with the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, Pepsi, and AVP to distribute holiday meals to needy families, Dec. 7.

The initiative will be part of the Rams’ 4th Annual Community Blitz Day of Service when the team works alongside community partners during the holidays to host volunteer events throughout the greater LA region.

The location is yet to be determined.

Metropolis News Service.

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