Is California planning for schools to mandate Indigenous religious practices as part of a new ethnic studies effort?

Saturday, March 20, 2021
By Lauralei Singsank

On March 18, the California Board of Education voted unanimously to approve a model curriculum including ethnic studies in K-12 schools. The recommended curriculum focuses on the heritage and experiences of Native Americans as well as Asian Americans, Blacks and Latinos. An appendix of lesson resources includes “intercultural” chants as a teaching tool drawing on various Indigenous prayers and rituals, leading a conservative magazine to characterize the new curriculum as an effort to bring pagan worship into the classroom.

A bill to make an ethnic studies course a high school graduation requirement is moving through the legislature, though it specifies that any required course would “not teach or promote religious doctrine”—a phrase added in response to concerns raised by the legislature’s Jewish caucus.

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