Over the past month, increased controversy over Assemblyman Jose Medina’s (D-Riverside) bill, which would require every High School student to take ethnic studies in order to graduate, has increased not only political tensions but cultural pressures as well. Although the bill (AB 331) easily passed the Assembly 63-8 this past May, it has been postponed until next year until the draft curriculum can be rewritten.
According to State Board of Education President Linda Darling-Hammond, the goal of the curriculum was to be “accurate, free of bias, and appropriate for all learners in our diverse state and aligned with Gov. Newsom’s vision of California for all.”
It’s safe to say the draft curriculum drastically missed the mark. Not only did not it not include any representation from other cultural groups including Armenians, Greeks, Hindus and Koreans, but it also, according to the Jewish caucus, did not have any meaningful discussion about anti-Semitism. In fact, the term anti-Semitism is not even listed in the curriculum’s glossary. Pro-Israel groups, in particular, complained the curriculum’s brief presentation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was incredibly one-sided and assumedly anti-Israel.
There has been numerous reports of growing anti-Israel sentiment proliferating from the Democratic party with Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar at the helm. The draft curriculum looks to be another step in that direction for the Democratic Party. Not to mention, the very concerning definition of capitalism that included the following observation, “Research has shown that native people and people of color are disproportionately exploited within the system.”
It’s clear the curriculum needs to be re-written on the base justification its current draft is extremely divisive, marginalizes groups of people, and is not based on mere facts. Even the bill’s author, Assemblyman Medina said, “As a teacher, I want to be able to allow my students to make up their own minds on issues. We provide information and let students draw conclusions.”
But what about AB 1460?
Introduce earlier this year by Assemblywoman Dr. Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) and passed in the Assembly, the bill would require all Cal States to force an undergraduate graduation completion of “at minimum, one 3-unit course in ethnic studies.” While this bill, similar to AB 331, would completely remove choice for colleges students, an outspoken critic Dr. Tony Lima, who taught economic at CSU Easy Bay for 37 years posted a six page critique of AB 1460. He writes:
“Cal State University (CSU) is today graduating students who cannot do basic algebra, supposedly a requirement for admission to the university. They also cannot compose a paragraph, much less an entire research paper. Once the CSU has figured out how to teach those two R’s, they can take the time to guarantee full employment for ethnic studies faculty.”
Dr. Lima continues in his analysis with important data on the performance of California’s K-12 public schools and the decision to drop algebra as a prerequisite in the Cal State system. Which begs the question, what are we trying to teach these students and how would either AB 1460 (Cal Sate) or AB 331 (High School) prepare students post-graduation without algebra and other elective courses for High School students? After all, you can’t add an additional class as a mandated requirement without removing an existing one. So, what gets eliminated?
Not to mention compliance with AB 1460 would cost around $80 million per year in pay and benefits to new instructors, which would be another tax increase for California residents to add to their existing title as “Most Taxed State in the Nation.” But the real question is, what is the goal of forcing ethnic studies as graduation requirement at both the High School and College levels of education?
You can argue it would be to decrease racial tensions by educating all students on the history of cultural hardships and persecution, however vast cultural groups were not included in the curriculum. Additional arguments can be made ethnic studies will be beneficial for college students post-graduation, but then rudimentary educational skills like math, are excluded? Not to mention, the root cause for this country’s economic success, Capitalism, is framed with obvious bias and negatively.
It seems lawmakers in California might be more concerned with legation that improve their political correctness in the minds of their party, rather than what makes sense in our education system and is best for students.
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