California’s Board of Education Adopts Ethnic Studies Curriculum After Contentious Debate

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The California State Board of Education approved an ethnic studies curriculum for K-12 after years of tumultuous debate. Some critics say the curriculum falls short of the true intent of ethnic studies as an academic discipline. Meanwhile, other opponents of the early drafts of the curriculum were concerned about presenting students with too critical a view of capitalism and white supremacy. In the end, the board of education adopted the curriculum in a way that provides teachers and districts flexibility in how they will teach ethnic studies. We examine the guidelines and the pushback, and hear about a proposal to make ethnic studies a high school graduation requirement in California.


John Fensterwald, editor-at-large, EdSource, an independent not-for-profit research and reporting organization

Evan Gutierrez, managing director of curriculum and assessment, Gradient Learning, a nonprofit organization focused on developing educational resources for schools

Theresa Montaño, faculty member, Department of Chicano and Chicana Studies, California State University Northridge, former member of the California ethnic studies curriculum advisory committee