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New Ethnic Studies Curriculum Is Getting Backlash For Being Too PC. How Should The Course Be Taught?

Students in a classroom at Los Angeles High School
Students in a classroom at Los Angeles High School
Tami Abdollah/KPCC

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Last year, California Assemblymember Jose Medina (D-Riverside) introduced a bill that would mandate high school students to take ethnic studies as a requirement for graduation.

That bill was vetoed under former Gov. Jerry brown, but a new draft is on its way to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk and the State Board of Education has issued an “Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum” to pair.

The model curriculum, which was drafted by an advisory committee of teachers, academics and bureaucrats, is getting backlash for being too “PC.” The LA Times and Wall Street Journal were quick to write opinions expressing that although they feel ethnic studies to be an important course, the proposed curriculum is extremely left-leaning and filled with cumbersome jargon that would become a vehicle to argue politics rather than critical thinking about race, ethnicity and indigeneity.

Among the criticisms: Capitalism is vilified and listed together with racism and white supremacy, Israel is presented as a Palestinian oppressor with scant mention of the Holocaust, faddish language like “cis-heteropatriarchy,” “misogynoir,” “positionalities,” “nepantlas” and more.

A number of groups have been calling for a complete overhaul of the model curriculum. California’s Education Department is soliciting public comments for the draft online until Aug. 15.

We discuss the draft and implications of teaching ethnic studies in California. Call us at 866-893-5722 to weigh in or comment below.


Stephanie Gregson, deputy superintendent for the California Department of Education

Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, a Democrat representing the 45th district, which includes Calabasas, Sherman Oaks and Northridge. He’s the vice chair of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus, which issued a letter to the Department of Education detailing concerns about the curriculum; he tweets @ASMGabriel 

Bill Evers, a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He served as assistant secretary of education for planning, evaluation, and policy development during the George W. Bush administration. 

Gaye Theresa Johnson, associate professor, Chicana and Chicano Studies and African American Studies at UCLA; she wrote the curriculum for the Ventura Unified School District; she tweets @LaDoctoraGTJ