Crimson Chronicle Reporter
Recently, California passed a new bill requiring high school students graduating in 2029-2030 to take at least one ethnic studies class. Schools will also have to offer at least one ethnic studies course starting in 2025-2026. One of the newest ethnic studies classes in Hollywood Senior High is Mexican-American Studies. Taught by Johnny Wood, the class studies the rich history of Mexican Americans. It is a single semester course, which takes place during Period 8, which will change to Intro to Psychology next semester.
Just last year, a similar bill had been vetoed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Wood considers this new law, “long overdue; but it was important to try to gain a consensus about the curriculum and the outline of the course.”
“I’ve watched the progress of this law for a while,” Wood said, noting that the first curriculum was originally vetoed by Newsom because of “alleged bias against capitalism and being too strident, too academic and hinting of critical race theory. The recent draft alleges more inclusivity and supposedly is less divisive.”
Ethnic studies classes have seen their fair share of controversy. “ History, if it is taught correctly, should elicit questions and debate. So I’m happy and proud of our “blue” state. Bring it on,” Wood said. “I always remind my students that some topics I discuss in my classes might be banned in other states. As an educator I appreciate that we are making the effort to expand cultural understanding.”
According to Wood, “College students have had access to a variety of courses and majors that have dealt with ethnic and cultural issues. I could have majored in Chicano studies at UCR back in the 80’s but I went with History and Political Science.”
With this new law, the goal is to have students begin learning about California’s diverse population from as soon as they’re in high school. “Students now have a choice of Black studies, Latinx studies, Women’s studies, Asian studies, etc. The new law will introduce many college concepts at the high school level.”
Even though these are still high school level classes, there’s nothing stopping the teachers from putting their own spin to them. “New social studies teachers should welcome the opportunity to expand their instruction. I mean I enjoy teaching my Mexican-American studies course and I feel like the students appreciate a deeper dive into the history and culture,” Wood said.
The CTA (California Teachers Association) co-sponsored the legislation for ethnic studies to become a requirement. After the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, they felt that awareness should be spread on the experiences of people of color through ethnic studies. Using ethnic studies, students will become more open minded to their peers and will learn to fight for racial justice and equity. “My hope is that it will increase empathy and understanding in our diverse population, ” Wood said.