California State Senate passes AB 1460, requiring CSU undergraduate students to take a 3-unit ethnic studies course


(Jirka Marousek/Flickr)

The California State Senate approves AB 1460, which will make the completion of a 3-unit ethnic studies class a graduation requirement for CSU undergraduate students.

Gillian Moran-Perez, News Editor

In a 30-5 vote, the California State Senate passed Assembly Bill 1460 on Thursday in a call to address race and miseducation in California state schools.

The bill, introduced by Assemblymember Shirley Webber in February 2019, requires the California State University to require the completion of a 3-unit ethnic studies course as an undergraduate graduation requirement, starting with the 2024-2025 academic year. All 23 CSU campuses are required to provide ethnic studies courses starting with the 2021-2022 academic year, according to the bill.

Ethnic studies focuses on four historically defined racialized groups: African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Latina/o Americans, according to the bill.

“This is a moment to be proud of and say the issue of race specifically needs to be talked about,” Senator Henry Stern said.
During the Senate meeting, Senator Ling Ling Chang recounted when she had the opportunity to educate a woman while Chang was knocking on doors to garner support. When a woman responded by saying she will never vote for ”an oriental”, a derogatory term to describe Asians, Chang took the time to educate her on acceptance.

“Ignorance can become hatred … Ultimately this is something I have to support because if we can kill hatred by just informing and educating our students to think critically, to think in different ways to seek more understanding, I think that’s a good thing,” Chang said.

Ethnic studies departments were established in November 1968 when a coalition of student groups at San Francisco State University demanded the administration to implement the education of historically racialized groups.
Since then, many campuses called for an establishment of their own ethnic studies departments, including University of California, Los Angeles and CSUN.

To close the hearing, Senator Steven Bradford recounted how he felt “ill-equipped” to pass an African American history course — which was taught by Assemblymember Weber — during his freshman year. He explained that the school system does not prepare students to learn history outside of what is in their textbooks.

“The school system does not prepare students to know about the real truth or the real history. This course will allow at least a little better understanding of each and every one of us,” Bradford said. “The urgency of now has clearly been demonstrated over the last three weeks in this country and around the world that we need systemic change when it comes to talking about our great diversity and ethnic differences in this country.”