California governor vetoes bill making ethnic studies a high school graduation requirement, says it needs more revising


(JTA) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill that would have made ethnic studies a requirement for graduation from high school in the state, saying the measure as written “still needs revision.”

In August 2019, the California State Board of Education rejected the proposed curriculum, which the California Legislative Jewish Caucus said “effectively erases the American Jewish experience,” “omits anti-Semitism,” “denigrates Jews” and “singles Israel out for condemnation.”

The new draft clearly identifies anti-Semitism as a form of bigotry and removes mention of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Last month, 80 organizations, not all of them Jewish, signed a letter coordinated by the Amcha Initiative, which monitors 450 college campuses across the United States for anti-Semitism, calling on Newsom to veto the current legislation and recommend to state lawmakers “to establish legislation in the CA Education Code to ensure that state-approved instructional materials are free from partisan or political biases, and that K-12 teachers are prohibited from using their classrooms for the purpose of one-sided partisan advocacy or activism.”

Newsom said Wednesday in a message accompanying the veto that the bill “would require ethnic studies to be taught in high school at a time when there is much uncertainty about the appropriate K-12 model curriculum for ethnic studies.”

The message added: “Last year, I expressed concern that the initial draft of the model curriculum was insufficiently balanced and inclusive and needed to be substantially amended. In my opinion, the latest draft, which is currently out for review, still needs revision.”

The bill would have required high schools to offer classes in ethnic studies beginning with the 2025-26 school year and made ethnic studies a graduation requirement by the 2029-30 term.

In August, Newsom signed legislation requiring ethnic studies for California State University students.

A 2016 law ordered the Board of Education to create a curriculum that would highlight the contributions of minorities in the development of California and the United States.

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