Law Updates, Adds Diversity to State History Curriculum

Senator Loni Hancock

Governor Jerry Brown  this week  signed  into law S.B. 1540, Senator Loni Hancock’s bill to revise how history and social sciences are taught in public schools. “It is a serious shortcoming that our basic instructional materials are so outdated,” Senator Hancock said.  “California textbooks don’t even mention the 9/11 tragedy or the election of Barak Obama to the Presidency.” The new law authorizes the State Board of Education to develop a new instructional and curriculum framework for teaching history and social sciences in K-12 classes.  The existing framework is based on standards last adopted in 1998. A new framework was developed in 2009, but its adoption was suspended for budgetary reasons. As a result, California schools are still using textbooks and instructional materials based on 14-year old standards. “We have an obligation to students and teachers to ensure that California schools will have materials that reflect the contributions of the many diverse cultural and religious groups in this country, as well as events in the second decade of this century – and not just those prior to 1998,” Senator Hancock said. “I believe, along with the Sikh community of California and many others, that education is the key to tolerance, understanding and to avoiding tragedies like the shooting outside a Sikh temple in Wisconsin last month,” she said. For the first time, information about the Sikh religion and culture, as well as information about other religious and cultural groups in California, will be included in the new instructional framework.
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