NAS Statement on the University of California's Proposed Ethnic Studies Requirement

National Association of Scholars

The National Association of Scholars opposes a proposal before the University of California Academic Council, which adds a new requirement for admission, the completion in high school of a one-semester course on “Ethnic Studies.”

This may sound innocuous, but in fact it is attempt to intensify the role of identity politics both on campus and in California’s schools. As with any social program invented in California, the rest of the country should take notice. California remains the proving ground of progressive public policy, where destructive innovations are tried out before they are marketed in other locales.

Progressives have attempted to impose “Ethnic Studies” on California school children for nearly a decade. Ethnic Studies may sound like a survey course in anthropology, but in fact it is a version of ethnic separatism. It emphasizes the historical, social, psychological, and political divisions among groups and accentuates group grievances and resentments. The course serves the purpose of political factions that try to garner support by promoting the idea that American society has victimized ethnic minorities for the benefit of the established white majority. Supporters of the Ethnic Studies agenda attempt to lure ethnic groups with the promise of special attention to their particular “stories.” What goes missing is the story of common values and the shared struggle to build a better nation.

 The proposal at the University of California is a backdoor attempt to make the Ethnic Studies agenda more prominent. Californians recently rejected a radical version of the Ethnic Studies curriculum for the schools and passed a more moderate version. The radicals, who were disappointed in this outcome, are now attempting to get their way by using UC admissions requirements to pump their views into the schools. In their own words, the requirement should

create and honor anti-colonial and liberatory movements that struggle for social justice on global and local levels... Engage in the critical study of struggles, locally and globally, against systems and ideas that attempt to divide and conquer people...Critique histories of imperialism, dehumanization, and genocide to expose how they are connected to present-day ideologies, systems and dominant cultures that perpetuate racial violence, white supremacy, and other forms of oppression.

As the California Association of Scholars has noted, a University of California admissions requirement that requires a radical version of Ethnic Studies will force every high school in the state to teach that curriculum, because every state high school has to prepare students for college—and most California high school students who apply to college will apply to the UC system.

The education establishment in California refuses to accept democratic accountability. They insist on imposing identity-politics propaganda on students, no matter how many times the voters tell them No.

NAS has opposed any form of Ethnic Studies requirements in K-12 schools or higher education, along with all Diversity requirements, Multiculturalism requirements, Global requirements, Social Justice requirements, and Service-Learning requirements. All of them substitute progressive propaganda and/or community organization for education. But some of these requirements are worse than others. Some, for example, allow professors to sneak in courses on (say) the Italian Renaissance on the grounds that it increases “diversity.” This California proposal is not like that. It is, rather, simply propaganda for identity-group resentment.

We urge everyone in California, and especially everyone affiliated with the UC system, to express their opposition to this new requirement. Readers who are not part of the UC  system should sign this public petition.

We also urge all Americans to note this new tactic by the Woke Left. College admissions requirements until now have been unpoliticized—you must take one year of history, one year of science, one year of literature, and so on. Now the Woke Left has realized that they can change high school curricula by changing college admissions requirements to include propaganda courses such as Ethnic Studies. If this is being done under the radar in California, it is just a matter of time before it is done around the country, in private and public colleges. Americans everywhere now must look at the university systems to see if their admissions requirements have been corrupted.

State legislators should do more than just look. They must pass laws to ensure that public universities cannot impose ideological admissions requirements. They also can use their ability to regulate standards for institutions of higher education to be granted degree-giving authority, and require that higher education admissions standards cannot impose ideological requirements such as Ethnic Studies. State policymakers have the tools to address this new challenge by the Woke Education Establishment.

That is for the long run. Right now, everyone should get in touch with the University of California to let them know they oppose this underhanded attempt to impose propaganda on California’s high schools.


Image: Bob Brewer, Public Domain

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