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California Department of Education
News Release
California Department of Education
News Release
Release: #20-96
November 18, 2020
Contact: Communications
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond and Scholars Present Latest Recommendations to Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond was joined Wednesday by leading scholars and advocates for ethnic studies as the California Department of Education (CDE) presented its latest recommendations to the draft Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum, a resource that once adopted will help educators to design coursework that elevates the stories and voices of historically marginalized populations who have contributed to our state and nation’s history.

The CDE’s recommendations were presented to the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC)—an advisory body to the State Board of Education—which will direct the next round of revisions to the draft model curriculum before another opportunity for public input.

“Our educators and students have told us there is an overwhelming need for tools and resources that promote an honest accounting of California and our nation’s history, and to see themselves reflected in the lessons taught in our schools,” Thurmond said. “The recommendations presented today offer a bold and balanced pathway to uplifting the stories and experiences that are rarely told in our classrooms.”

The CDE recommends that the model curriculum increase the breadth and depth of the four foundational disciplines of ethnic studies—African American Studies, Asian American Studies, Chicana/o/x Latina/o/x Studies, and Native American Studies––through revisions and additions that strengthen the content, and which better reflect the diversity of experiences and contributions of groups that have been marginalized and understudied.

Additionally, the CDE has proposed updating and expanding an existing set of resources—where all sample lessons are housed—to further reflect California's diversity by offering instructional materials that raise the voices of many identities whose experiences intersect with the core disciplines of ethnic studies, such as Arab Americans, Armenian Americans, Jewish Americans, and Sikh Americans.

 Joining State Superintendent Thurmond who spoke in support of CDE’s recommendations Wednesday were:

  • Former Assemblymember Luis Alejo, a former high school ethnic studies teacher who authored the bill to establish a model curriculum
  • Manufou Liaiga-Anoa’i, the first Samoan Pacific Islander to serve on the Jefferson Elementary School District Board and co-chair of the State Superintendent’s Closing the Achievement Gap initiative
  • Dr. Albert Camarillo, founding director of the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity at Stanford University and one of the founding scholars in the field of Mexican American History and Chicano Studies
  • Dr. Shawn Ginwright, a professor of Africana Studies at San Francisco State University, where the ethnic studies movement launched decades ago

California is required by law to develop a model curriculum in ethnic studies to be utilized as a guide and outline for schools as they consider implementing ethnic studies courses. This guide will help districts and schools as they begin to develop their own ethnic studies curriculum reflecting their student demographics and community.

After the IQC considers and acts on the recommendations during the second day of its meeting (Thursday, November 19, 2020), the updated model curriculum draft will undergo another 45-day public review period.

State law requires the State Board of Education to take final action on the model curriculum by March 31, 2021.

More information on the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum can be found on the CDE Model Curriculum Projects web page. Individuals or groups may submit public comment on the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum at

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Tony Thurmond — State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100

Last Reviewed: Wednesday, July 12, 2023
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