Newsom signs controversial bill requiring ethnic studies for all CA students to graduate

The law takes effect starting with the classes of 2030

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed into law Friday afternoon a bill requiring students to take ethnic studies classes in order to graduate. Critics contend the controversial bill opens the door to teaching critical race theory in the classroom. 

"This bill would add the completion of a one-semester course in ethnic studies, meeting specified requirements, to the graduation requirements commencing with pupils graduating in the 2029–30 school year, including for pupils enrolled in a charter school," The bill, known as A.B. 101 states. "The bill would expressly authorize local educational agencies, including charter schools, to require a full-year course in ethnic studies at their discretion."

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One of the bill's authors, Democrat Assembly Member Jose Medina, said the bill is necessary in public schools.

"The inclusion of ethnic studies in the high school curriculum is long overdue," Medina said. "Students cannot have a full understanding of the history of our state and nation without the inclusion of the contributions and struggles of Native Americans, African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans."

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According to Cal Matters, specific lessons provided in a sample of the curriculum include, "Migration Stories and Oral History," "#BlackLivesMatter and Social Change," "Afrofuturism: Reimagining Black Futures and Science Fiction," "US Undocumented Immigrants from Mexico and Beyond," "The Immigration Experience of Lao Americans" and "This is Indian Land: The Purpose, Politics, and Practice of Land Acknowledgment."

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The bill was opposed by the Los Angeles Times editorial board, which argued it provided too much flexibility to the schools. Thousands in the Southern California Jewish community opposed the bills because they deemed previous versions to be antisemitic.

Others have accused the bill of opening the door for critical race theory, the controversial curriculum showing up in schools across the country that contends the United States is systemically racist.