Opinion: California’s Ethnic Studies Mandate – The Wall Street Journal


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Conservatives in the 1990s worried about the rise of “critical race theory” in higher education. But at least college students were there by choice, and the Marxist-influenced courses, which indicted American values, were often optional. That’s changing fast as the largest U.S. state moves this week toward imposing a radical ethnic studies curriculum as a high-school graduation requirement.
The recent push to mandate ethnic studies in California public schools has met resistance from liberals and conservatives—including a surprise veto last year from Gov. Gavin Newsom. He called for revisions in the model curriculum before the state required it.
But now that some of the eyebrow-raising parts have been edited out—like an assignment about Jews “gaining racial privilege”—the final course will be presented to the state board of education on Thursday. Once it’s approved, the legislature can again send Mr. Newsom its bill to make it mandatory for K-12 students.
So what will California teenagers be taught? A multitude of ethnic groups have shaped the American experience, and some of the material presents that history. But the thrust of the hundreds of pages of course outlines is to enlist students in progressive politics. “One of the main focuses of ethnic studies is translating historical lessons and critical race theory into direct action for social justice,” a course outline says.
This requires that students are taught to view the American creed as sinister. One lesson plan introduces students to what it calls “dominant narratives,” defined as stories “told in service of the dominant social group’s interests and ideologies.” A University of Michigan lesson plan that forms the basis for the outline explains that one example of a “dominant narrative” was the antebellum claim that “slavery is necessary for the wellbeing of slaves.” A contemporary example, according to the lesson plan? That “America is a meritocracy, and anyone can achieve their ambitions through hard work and perseverance.”

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