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Should The State Require All CSU Students To Take An Ethnic Studies Class To Graduate?

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) - California State University students may be required to take a course in Ethnic Studies in order to graduate; however, all 23 campuses in the system are pushing back on the proposed legislation and lawmakers raised concerns about dictating which courses should become graduation requirements.

Assembly Bill 1460 passed the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday. It previously passed the full Assembly.

If AB 1460 becomes law all CSU schools would need to provide courses in ethnic studies starting with the 2020-2021 school year. The courses would need to be approved by a curriculum committee on a campus by campus basis. The bill ensures students wouldn't need to complete an additional three units in order to graduate, rather this course would replace another course the students would take in order to earn a Bachelor's Degree.

Starting with the 2017-2018 school year, CSU capped the general education credits available for students at 48 units, and according to the bill that " effectively
lowers the demand for Ethnicity Studies, Comparative Cultural Studies, Gender, Race, Class, and Foreign Languages at many campuses." The CSU Chancellor's Office released data about the impact this had on enrollment in Ethnic Studies courses saying, "Ethnic Studies course enrollments increased from fall 2016 (one year prior to Executive Order 1100-Revised) to fall 2018 (one-year after Executive Order 1100-Revised.) During this time, course enrollments in the four areas highlighted in AB 1460 – Native American Studies, African American Studies, Asian American Studies, and Latina and Latino American Studies – went from 8,213 to 8,935 fulltime equivalent students (FTES); an increase of almost 9 percent."

The Senate Education Committee raised concerns about making additional courses a requirement for graduation, specifically for Community College students who transfer as Juniors. The lawmakers also questioned how many other proposals would be submitted:

"The graduation requirement proposed by this bill is limited to ethnic studies. If the bill were to take effect, it seems likely that the Legislature would see additional proposals in future years to add additional graduation requirements. For example, it is easy to envision a proposal to require a gender studies or LGBTQ+ studies requirement, or perhaps a graduation requirement centered on climate change or environmental education. Evidence of this possibility can be seen in the K-12 graduation requirements, where the Legislature has considered a burgeoning list of subjects for a new
graduation requirement in recent years, including financial literacy, service learning, health, and ethnic studies."

A number of departments within the CSU system support AB 1460:

  • Black Student Union at Sacramento State University
  • California State University, Long Beach – Department of Africana Studies
  • California State University, Long Beach – Dept. of Asian and Asian American Studies
  • California State University, Los Angeles – Department of Pan-African Studies
  • California State University, Northridge – Department of Social Work
  • California State University, Northridge – Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies
  • California State University, Stanislaus – Ethnic Studies program

A similar bill proposed last year was held in the Assembly Higher Education Committee.

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