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California Governor Signs Bill to Develop High School Ethnic Studies Curriculum

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed new legislation Tuesday to develop a model curriculum for ethnic studies in high schools, according to the Office of the Governor. Bill AB-2016, was sponsored by Assemblymember Luis A. Alejo (D-Salinas) and had bipartisan support in both houses.

"AB-2016 is a landmark law that will ensure all California high school students have an opportunity to learn about their own or another culture's history and importance in shaping the state's past, present, and future," founder of grassroots education news and civic tech site K-12 News Network Cynthia Liu told NBC News. "We hope mutual understanding, empathy, and racial/cultural literacy will be the fruit of this important law.

The law requires the California Instructional Quality Commission to develop — and California's State Board of Education to adopt — a model curriculum in ethnic studies, according to Alejo's office. This curriculum will be developed with ethnic studies faculty from California universities and public school teachers with experience teaching ethnic studies.

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AB2016 also encourages public school districts and charter schools with grades nine to 12 to offer an ethnic studies course based upon the model curriculum.

"The development of a comprehensive ethnic studies curriculum acknowledges the diversity of California, which has the most ethnically diverse public school student body in the nation," Alejo, who is also the chairperson of the California Latino Legislative Caucus, said in a statement. "Ethnic studies are not just for students of color. We should give all students the opportunity to prepare for a diverse global economy, diverse university campuses and diverse workplaces."

The curriculum is expected to be completed by June 30, 2019, and adopted by Nov. 30, 2019, according to Alejo's office.

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