Students pursuing an associate degree at any California community college may be required to take a three-unit ethnic studies class beginning in 2022. The statewide Board of Governors is set to hold a public hearing this week on the proposed change to the community college system’s general education requirements.
The move, expected to be approved in July, would mandate students take a class focusing on Native American studies, African American studies, Asian American studies, or Latina and Latino studies before acquiring a degree.
“We feel very strongly that any student receiving a 21st century education should have exposure to the various cultures, ethnicities, and lived experiences of the individuals and communities that make up this diverse country,” Los Angeles Community College District Chancellor Francisco Rodriguez told EdSource.
Once the Board of Governors approves the new requirement, a task force will be created to determine how community colleges will implement the change in their curriculum.
‘Exposing Students to Stories of Ethnic, Racial Groups’
Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi believes that it is time for students to gain a deeper understanding of the important stories surrounding non-white racial and ethnic groups in the country.
He shared that taking an Asian American history class at the University of California Berkeley had more impact on his life than any other course.
“Whether we’re talking about the traumatic spike in anti-Asian hate and anti-Asian violence, whether we’re talking about the Black Lives Matter movement, or hate against so many other groups and communities, all of that highlights the critical importance for us to make sure that our students have an opportunity to learn how to view American society and American history from multicultural perspectives,” he explained.
‘A Great Opportunity’
Alexis Hernandez, a student at Butte College, anticipates that taking ethnic studies at community college will serve as a great addition to her education. She believes classes that tackle ethnicity might allow students to understand one another better as human beings.
“Everywhere you go, you are going to meet different people and it is important to be able to understand where they are coming from and to respect them,” Hernandez remarked.