Gov. Gavin Newsom signs an executive order. Photo courtesy of the governor’s office

Gov. Gavin Newsom has vetoed a controversial bill that would have required California high school students to take an ethnic studies course in order to graduate.

Assembly Bill 331 is similar to one Newsom signed in August that covers students in the California State University System, but the governor said the draft high school curriculum was “insufficiently balanced and inclusive” and the latest version “still needs revision.”

“I value the role ethnic studies plays in helping students think critically about our history and understand the experience of marginalized communities,” Newsom said in his veto message late Wednesday. “I already signed AB 1460, which will mandate ethnic studies as a graduation requirement for the California State University system.”

But he said the second bill “would require ethnic studies to be taught in high school at a time when there is much uncertainty about the appropriate K-12 model curriculum for ethnic studies.” He added that he is directing state education officials to re-work the draft curriculum.

Assemblyman Jose Medina, a fellow Democrat from Riverside, criticized the veto as “a failure to push back against the racial rhetoric and bullying of Donald Trump.”

San Diego Assemblymembers Shirley Weber and Lorena Gonzalez were among the legislation’s original sponsors.

The bill would have required high schools to provide ethnic studies starting in the 2025-26 school year and made it a graduation requirement starting in the 2029-30 school year.

Newsom noted that “hundreds of schools across our state” have independently instituted ethnic studies courses and promised the state would provide support.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.