California’s reparations task force has just released a new set of documents further detailing recommendations for how the state should redress California’s history of racially targeted policies.
Aside from new estimates calling for the state to pay eligible black residents up to $1.2 million dollars each, the task force is urging state lawmakers to implement compulsory reparations coursework in high school education.
The initiative to teach reparations in grades 9-12 falls within the task force’s “Recommendations for Educating the Public.”
While the initial curriculum would only be for high school students, the task force is calling for “grade-level appropriate curricula” to be developed for “younger children.”
“The task force further recommends that the legislature fund the implementation of age-appropriate curricula across all grade levels, as well as the delivery of these curricula in schools across California,” according to the latest document outlining the education strategy.
California’s reparations plan has sparked national debate and outrage, particularly from critics who argue that the state was never a slave state, and thus should not be responsible for reparations. In defending the need to promote reparations in schools, authors of the report address this subject, writing:
Though California entered the Union in 1850 as technically a free state, the state government at the time nonetheless permitted and committed grave injustices against African Americans and allowed its residents to enslave African Americans. These injustices—which all took place in California—included enslavement, legal public and private segregation, discrimination in state funding and programming, and stigmatization that upheld a white supremacist racial hierarchy that remains in place to this day.
Additional topics task force members want taught to children include California fugitive slave law, the state not ratifying the U.S. Constitution’s 14th and 15th Amendments until 1959 and 1962 (respectively), California being a “strong [Ku Klux] Klan state,” housing segregation, and other questions frequently raised by critics.
Two professors from UC Berkeley, Dr. Travis J. Bristol and Dr. Tolani A. Britton, were tapped to advise the task force on the structure and components of the curriculum, which will teach “a major portion of American history that is largely unknown,” the document states.
In order to fund the education initiative, the task force is urging state legislators to create a public education fund for “versatile projects to support public education, including curricula, audio books, public arts displays, literary works, documentary films, student essay contests, seminars, podcasts, and any other media that may be appropriate to educate all Californians about ‘[t]he lingering negative effects of the institution of enslavement and the discrimination described in [this report] on living African Americans and on society in California and the United States’ and all of the findings and recommendations set forth in this report.”
According to the task force’s report, academic education on black history and “culturally relevant” material has increased “engagement and academic outcomes for students from diverse racial and ethnic groups.” The report cites a study that concluded attendance for non-white students at risk of dropping out increased 21 percent and grade point averages increased by an average of 1.4 points when they took an ethnic studies course.
A separate study cited in the document found that students of color who had been enrolled in an ethnic studies course “had higher rates of attendance and graduation, and an increased likelihood of attending college when compared to their peers who did not have access to an ethnic studies course.”
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