BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                     AB 101

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          Date of Hearing:  March 25, 2015

                           ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION

                                  O'Donnell, Chair

                        101 (Alejo) - As Amended March 18, 2015

          SUBJECT:  Pupil instruction:  ethnic studies

          SUMMARY:  This bill requires the development of a model  
          curriculum in ethnic studies, establishes an advisory committee  
          on ethnic studies, and requires that all school districts  
          serving students in grades 7-12 students offer ethnic studies as  
          an elective course.

          Specifically, this bill: 

          1)  Makes findings and declarations relating to the importance  
          of instruction in ethnic studies.

          2)  Requires the Superintendent of Public Instruction to oversee  
          the development of a model curriculum and other support systems  
          to ensure quality courses in partnerships with universities with  
          ethnic studies programs.

          3)  Requires that the model curriculum meet the A-G approval  
          requirements of the Regents of the University of California.

          4)  Requires the State Board of Education (SBE) to adopt the  
          model curriculum.


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          5)  Requires the Superintendent of Public Instruction to  
          establish an Ethnic Studies Advisory Committee, made up of  
          relevant stakeholders, including students, parents, state  
          personnel, ethnic studies scholars, university professors, and  
          teachers with ethnic studies experience.

          6)  Requires that the Committee be comprised of a majority of  
          educators with experience in teaching ethnic studies from high  
          schools and institutions of higher education.

          7)  Requires the Advisory Committee to advise, assist, and make  
          recommendations to the State Board of Education on programs,  
          curriculum content, and other issues related to ethnic studies.

          8)  Requires, by June 30, 2016, the Superintendent to submit to  
          the board a plan to implement this section.

          9)  Requires school districts enrolling students in grades 7-12,  
          in the school year following the adoption of the model  
          curriculum, to offer to its students as an elective course, a  
          course of study in ethnic studies based on the model curriculum.

          EXISTING LAW:

          1)  Requires local educational agencies (LEAs) to adopt a course  
          of study for grades 7-12 which includes English, mathematics,  
          science, history-social studies, and other subjects.

          2)  Establishes the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) and  
          requires, upon request by the State Board of Education, that it  
          make recommendations on courses of study.  


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          3)  Requires the California Department of Education to develop  
          model curricula on a variety of topics, including the life of  
          Cesar Chavez, and human rights and genocide.

          FISCAL EFFECT:  Unknown


          Curriculum, standards, frameworks, and model curricula.   
          California's public school curriculum is based on content  
          standards in various subjects, including English-Language Arts,  
          Mathematics, Science, History-Social Science, Physical  
          Education, English Language Development, Career Technical  
          Education, Health Education, World Languages, and Visual and  
          Performing Arts.  These standards are developed by the IQC  
          through a public process, and are adopted by the State Board of  

          The IQC sets standards form the basis of California's curriculum  
          frameworks, documents which guide the implementation of these  
          standards.  The frameworks establish criteria used to evaluate  
          instructional materials. These criteria are used to select,  
          through the state adoption process, instructional materials for  
          kindergarten through grade eight. Frameworks also guide district  
          selection of instructional materials for grades nine through  

          In addition to developing curricula in the above subjects, the  
          Superintendent of Public Instruction is sometimes directed by  
          law to develop model curricula on different topics, such as  
          those on the life of Cesar Chavez, and human rights and  

          Ethnic studies course outlined in draft History-Social Science  
          framework.  The draft History-Social Science Framework developed  
          by the IQC, describes high school elective courses in ethnic  


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          studies as follows:

               Ethnic studies is an interdisciplinary field of study that  
               encompasses many subject areas including history,  
               literature, economics, sociology, and political science,  
               among others. In this course, students focus on an in-depth  
               comparative study of the history, politics, culture,  
               contributions, challenges, and current status of ethnic  
               groups in the United States. It is also important for  
               students to learn the national origins of ethnic groups and  
               their transnational linkages. In Ethnic Studies, students  
               examine the process of racial and ethnic formation of  
               ethnic minorities in a variety of contexts: political,  
               legal, social, historical, economic, and cultural. The  
               course concentrates, to a great extent, on the experiences  
               of various ethnic minorities in the United States and the  
               ways in which their experiences were impacted by the issues  
               of race, ethnicity, class, gender, and the interaction  
               among different ethnic groups. Students will also address  
               how individuals within specific ethnic groups think and  
               feel about themselves and their group as it can be  
               represented by literature, memoirs, art, and music. To  
               understand ethnic identity in their local communities,  
               students can volunteer with local community organizations  
               and centers that serve specific ethnic populations. 

          History-social science framework adoption delayed.  The  
          History-Social Science standards currently in use were adopted  
          in 1998, and the most recent framework was published in 2005.  

          The Curriculum Commission (now the IQC) began work revising the  
          History-Social Science Framework in January of 2008.  A  
          significant amount of the process had been completed (focus  
          groups, selection of evaluation criteria committee members, five  
          drafting meetings) when in 2009 the state's fiscal emergency led  
          to a statutory suspension (Chapter 2, Statutes of 2009, Fourth  
          Extraordinary Session) of instructional materials adoptions and  
          framework revisions until the 2013-14 school year.  That  
          suspension was later extended until the 2015-16 school year  


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          (Chapter 7, Statutes of 2011).

          The IQC began work again on the revision in July, 2014, and  
          released the draft History-Social Science framework for field  
          review in September, 2014.  The draft generated extensive public  
          comment it generated (nearly 700 comments).  The IQC also  
          determined that more subject matter expertise was needed certain  
          areas (including some mandated for inclusion by legislation),  
          and submitted a budget request for $124,000 to hire experts  
          through an interagency agreement.  

          These events have caused significant delays in the production of  
          the revised framework.  Originally scheduled for adoption in  
          May, 2015, this framework is now set to be recommended to the  
          State Board by March 2016, with final publication in fall, 2016.

          Most ethnic studies courses reported as not meeting A-G  
          requirements.  According to data reported by the California  
          Department of Education, 8,129 students were enrolled in ethnic  
          studies courses in the 2012-13 school year.  Of those, 4,379  
          students were enrolled in 435 social science ethnic studies  
          courses in 100 schools, and 3,750 students were enrolled in 137  
          language arts (ethnic literature) courses in 49 schools.   
          Notably, only 108 of the 435 social science courses and 97 of  
          the 137 language arts courses were identified as approved A-G  

          Trend toward local ethnic studies graduation requirements.   
          Several school districts have recently made completion of a  
          course in ethnic studies a local graduation requirement.  Among  
          them are Los Angeles Unified School District (which also  
          resolved that the total number of credits required for  
          graduation would not increase), Montebello Unified School  
          District, and El Rancho Unified School District.  San Francisco  
          Unified School District has resolved to offer ethnic studies  
          courses at all high schools, and explore ways create such a  
          graduation requirement in the next five years.


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          Research on academic value of ethnic studies.  A review by the  
          National Education Association<1> found that "there is  
          considerable research evidence that well-designed and  
          well-taught ethnic studies curricula have positive academic and  
          social outcomes for students. Curricula are designed and taught  
          somewhat differently depending on the ethnic composition of the  
          class or school and the subsequent experiences students bring,  
          but both students of color and White students have been found to  
          benefit from ethnic studies.  An analysis<2> related to the  
          Arizona case described below found "a consistent, significant,  
          positive relationship between [Mexican American Studies]  
          participation and student academic performance." 

          Arizona law bans ethnic studies.  In 2010 Arizona's Governor  
          signed legislation prohibiting school districts from offering  
          ethnic studies courses.  This legislation was aimed at  
          eliminating Mexican American studies courses taught in the  
          Tuscon public schools.  A federal judge upheld most of this law  
          in 2013, and the case is currently under appellate review in the  
          9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
          Requirement to offer ethnic studies courses.  This bill requires  
          LEAs with students in grades 7-12 to offer a course in ethnic  
          studies in once one has been adopted by the SBE.  

          This Committee has approved many measures authorizing the  
          development of model curricula, including model curricula on the  


           Sleeter, Christine.  The Academic and Social Value of Ethnic  
          Studies: A Research Review. National Education Association,  

           Cabrera, Nolan L. et al.  An Empirical Analysis of the Effects  
          of Mexican American Studies Participation on Student Achievement  
          within Tuscon Unified School District.


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          life of Cesar Chavez, human rights and genocide, computer  
          science, career technical education, environmental studies, and  
          financial literacy.  These bills typically require the  
          development of a model curriculum, developed by the CDE and  
          adopted by the SBE, and made available to school districts,  
          which may use it as they so choose.

          This Committee does not typically hear legislation which would  
          require school districts to offer specific elective courses.   
          Requirements to offer elective courses are not generally seen as  
          the purview of the Legislature, which sets broad requirements  
          for courses of study and graduation requirements, and authorizes  
          the development of content standards to which instruction and  
          materials should be aligned, but leaves the decision of which  
          elective courses to offer to local school districts.  

          School districts can and are offering ethnic studies courses.   
          As noted above, many are exceeding the requirements of this bill  
          by not only offering ethnic studies but making completion a  
          graduation requirement.  When the revised History-Social Science  
          framework is approved, districts will be encouraged, by the  
          course outline quoted above, to offer ethnic studies courses.   
          The availability of a well-designed A-G aligned model curriculum  
          could be a valuable resource to those districts offering and  
          requiring ethnic studies, and may further encourage the offering  
          of these courses.  

          Which courses would be developed?  Ethnic studies courses are  
          taught in different disciplines (often history, social sciences,  
          and literature) and cover varied content (often  

          Montebello Unified School District offers a history elective  
          called "Mexican American Studies" and an English/Language Arts  
          elective called "African American Literature."  Oakland Unified  
          School District offers a history-social science elective course  
          titled "African American History" and Los Angeles Unified School  
          District offers an English/language arts course titled "Mexican  


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          American Literature." San Francisco Unified School district  
          offers a social studies elective called "Asian American  
          History," a year-long course taught in Chinese titled "Asian  
          American Studies," as well as a social studies elective titled  
          "Ethnic Studies." 

          This bill does not indicate the kinds of courses that are to be  
          contained in the model curriculum it requires, but suggests that  
          this would be the job of the advisory committee to determine.   
          This ambiguity could make the task of writing the model  
          curriculum challenging, and make the requirement that school  
          districts offer a course in the first school year after the  
          curriculum was adopted extremely difficult.  Accordingly, staff  
          recommends that the bill be amended to clarify the scope of the  
          model curriculum to be developed.

          Prior legislation.  AB 1750 (Alejo) of the 2013-14 Session,  
          which was approved by this committee by a 5-1 vote, would have  
          required the Instructional Quality Commission to identify a  
          model curriculum on ethnic studies at the high school level.   
          That bill was held in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

          AB 2001 (Diaz) of the 2001-02 Session would have required the  
          Curriculum Development and Supplemental Materials Commission  
          (now the Instructional Quality Commission) to identify model  
          programs, standards, and curricula for ethnic studies at the  
          high school level.  This bill was vetoed by the Governor, who  
          stated that existing law, teacher training, and curriculum  
          already addressed this topic.

          Questions the Committee may wish to consider:


          1)School districts are currently challenged by significant  
            changes in core subject content standards, instructional  


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            methods, instructional materials, assessments, and school  
            finance and accountability.  California still ranks among the  
            lowest of the states in spending per student.  Is this the  
            right time for the state to institute significant requirements  
            such as this one?

          2)In the current era of local control, it is appropriate for the  
            state to mandate which elective courses must be offered?

          3)Outside of setting broad courses of study, graduation  
            requirements, and offering model curricula, should the  
            Legislature be involved in mandating public school curriculum?



          American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees,  

          California Immigrant Policy Center

          California Teachers Association

          Ethnic Studies Now Coalition

          Santa Barbara Unified School District

          Social Justice Education Coalition, UC Davis


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          None received on this version of the bill

          Analysis Prepared  
          by:              Tanya Lieberman/ED./319-2087