Will Gavin Newsom Sign Anti-Capitalist, Anti-Israel Ethnic Studies Mandate For High School Graduation?

On September 8, the California Legislature passed AB 101, which would mandate a required ethnic studies course for high school graduation across the state. It awaits a signature from embattled Governor Gavin Newsom.

It seems likely the governor will sign the mandate into law, although the looming recall election on September 14 may change his calculus on whether to sign the bill.

The bill has gone through several versions, amendments, and other changes since first came up for consideration in 2018. The idea has generated national attention and outrage from parents of students in California’s public schools. Throughout the process, its sponsors and supporters have endeavored to obfuscate the connection between their version of Ethnic Studies and Critical Race Theory. Legal Insurrection’s Samantha Mandeles reported in February:

The California public school and university systems have seen their fair share of controversy—from outrage at the Islamist Council on American-Islamic Relations’ (CAIR) involvement in a San Diego “anti-bullying” program to blowback against the Burbank Unified School District’s practice of temporarily discontinuing the teaching of classic books.

Now, the state’s Department of Education is back in the hot-seat as its much-reviled “Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC) ” has once again made headlines for its reliance on the neo-Marxist (so-called) academic discipline known as “Critical Ethnic Studies.”

She later summarized the intent by saying, “The field is patently opposed to the ‘U.S. Empire’ and American capitalism (which it judges as completely immoral) and looks with disdain at ‘the nation-state model’; its overarching theme is one of the oppressor versus the oppressed, categorizations which it claims are inherently tied to the racial, ethnic, religious, class, and sexual identities of different groups. It then necessitates political activism and ‘community engagement’ based on these guiding principles.”

Mandeles followed up in March for Legal Insurrection with further unsavory details of the new mandate:

Indeed, as the Alliance for Constructive Ethnic Studies (ACES)—a community group working to implement Constructive Ethnic Studies instead of Critical Ethnic Studies laments,

It turns out that revising the ESMC has been a game of whack-a-mole. Every time some derogatory anti-Jewish content is removed, other problematic content shows up elsewhere. One draft’s antisemitic rap song and stereotypical slurs get removed, but in the next draft Zionism is inappropriately equated with oppressive Western colonialism, and in the subsequent draft antisemitic sources and pro-BDS role models are added.

So, will Newsom sign it into law? It seems likely on the surface, given his previous endorsement of a new mandate for college students to pass an ethnic studies course in order to graduate from the California State University System.

A couple of factors throw some doubt into the situation. As mentioned, Newsom is in a pitched battle, fighting for his very political survival in the looming recall election on September 14. His army of consultants and advisors are undoubtedly poring over the poll numbers to determine how signing AB 101 into law would affect his prospects in the recall, versus the effect of a veto. Additionally, after Jewish groups voiced concerns in 2019, he vetoed a previous version of this bill that made favorable statements about the BDS movement. The Jewish News of Northern California reported:

The draft, said Newsom, “will never see the light of day.”

The proposed high school curriculum sparked a national controversy, rallying groups such as the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Community Relations Council and the California Legislative Jewish Caucus to register their objections, charging bias about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, among other things.

“It’s going to be taken care of,” Newsom said. “We are united in our resolve to make sure the advisory committee draft is only that, a draft, that will be substantially amended. And let me also apologize on behalf of the state for the anxiety that this produced. It was offensive in so many ways, particularly to the Jewish community.”

Will Newsom sign this new ethnic studies bill into law? Will he let it sit until after the recall? Will he veto it? A bit of political drama is set to play out in advance of Tuesday’s recall vote.


Jeff Reynolds is the author of the book, “Behind the Curtain: Inside the Network of Progressive Billionaires and Their Campaign to Undermine Democracy,” available at Jeff hosts a podcast at You can follow him on Twitter @ChargerJeff, on Parler at @RealJeffReynolds, and on Gab at @RealJeffReynolds.


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