August 1, 2023
State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Doubles Down on Inclusive Education, Including Statewide Ethnic Studies Efforts to Help Bolster Improvement in Student Achievement
SACRAMENTO—Against a backdrop of culture wars being waged by states and some California school districts, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and the California Department of Education (CDE) are doubling down on efforts to promote inclusive education as a strategy to help improve student performance. Thurmond and the CDE announced a series of ethnic studies webinars that includes a “Train the Trainer” webinar on August 2 on how to use the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum guide that will be attended by more than 600 participants and a webinar on August 16 to help local educational agencies (LEAs) provide an ethnic studies graduation requirement by the 2026 state deadline to which all 1,000 LEAs in the state have been invited. Special guests and ethnic studies champions attending the August 16 webinar include labor movement icon Dolores Huerta; California Secretary of State Dr. Shirley Weber; and former Assemblymember Jose Medina, who authored Assembly Bill (AB) 101, a bill that will make California the first state to require all students to complete a semester-long course in ethnic studies to earn a high school diploma. Thurmond sponsored AB 101.
Thurmond also helped write and is sponsoring AB 1078 (Jackson), which would impose a fine on any district that bans a book, especially in an attempt to discriminate against students of color or LGBTQ+ students. Although the bill is being heard in the California State Legislature, the framework outlined in the bill was recently used to block the Temecula Valley Unified School District’s efforts to essentially ban a new curriculum for referencing LGBTQ icon Harvey Milk.
“Inclusive education is proven to help students of color, LGBTQ+ students, and students of all backgrounds to make academic improvement and to support the social development of students,” Thurmond said. “We will continue to support our students and will not stand by as school districts attempt to discriminate against students.”
Thurmond recently launched a Task Force on Inclusive Education that is working with textbook publishers to diversify the content that students see in instructional materials. Thurmond is also sponsoring Senate Bill 760, All-Gender Restrooms (Newman), which requires all K–12 schools in California to provide appropriate and equitable access to all-gender restrooms for students to use during school hours, and AB 5, The Safe and Supportive Schools Act (Zbur), which requires all K–12 schools in California to provide training to support LGBTQ+ pupils. Thurmond also hosted a ceremony on June 1, 2023, marking the first time the Progress Pride Flag was raised above the CDE in honor of Pride Month.
Those interested in the ethnic studies webinar series can register via Zoom for the CDE Train the Trainers Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum webinar on August 2, 2023, at 10 a.m. or register via Zoom for the CDE Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Graduation Requirements and Professional Development webinar on August 16, 2023, at 11 a.m.
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Tony Thurmond —
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100