WATSONVILLE—The Pajaro Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees on Wednesday unanimously approved a plan to add ethnic studies as a graduation requirement, a move that comes on the heels of a failed attempt by state lawmakers to create a similar statewide rule earlier this year.
Under the new rule, high school sophomores starting in the 2022-23 school year would be required to take at least a one-semester course of ethnic studies.
Gov. Gavin Newsom in late September vetoed Assembly Bill 331, authored by Jose Medina (D-Riverside), saying there was too much uncertainty about what would be included. The bill would have mandated ethnic studies beginning in the 2029-30 school year.
PVUSD Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Lisa Aguerria says that the district joins three others in California to require ethnic studies.
Under the new rules, students will choose between taking ethnic studies with an English literature focus, or take it during world history classes.
District officials hope in the future to allow students to focus on ethnic studies for their required senior projects, centered on issues within the Watsonville community, Aguerria said.
“I think it’s amazing,” she said. “The class will actually teach students to think critically about the world around them. It will also engage them socially and politically and help eradicate the bigotry and hatred that exists around the world.”