Minnesota legislature weighs adding ‘Ethnic Studies’ as a graduation requirement


Both the Minnesota House and Senate have introduced bills that would make it a graduation requirement for students to have at least one semester of an ethnic studies course.

House bill HF3434 and Senate bill SF3557 mirror each other in language, defining ethnic studies to mean “the critical and interdisciplinary study​ of race, ethnicity, and indigeneity with a focus on the experiences and perspectives of people​ of color within and beyond the United States. Ethnic studies analyzes the ways in which​ race and racism have been and continue to be powerful social, cultural, and political forces,​ and the connection of race to other groups of stratification, including gender, class, sexuality,​ and legal status.”

According to the proposed legislation, the Department of Education will be required to create a model ethnic studies curriculum which school districts and charters will be “encouraged to use.” The legislation also “encourages” districts and charters to utilize materials “authored by members of the community that is the subject of​ the course.”

The model curriculum to be developed by the Department of Education and Ethnic Studies Task Force “must” include “a power, race, class, and gender analysis as part of the course via literature,​discussion, classwork, and homework as it relates to ethnic studies courses” and “include an intersectional analysis of climate, health, food, housing, education, and​ policy.”

The Ethnic Studies Task Force set up by the Minnesota Department of Education “is established​ to advise the commissioner of education on ethnic studies standards, curriculum, and​ resources necessary to implement ethnic studies requirements.” The legislation also requires that the makeup of the task force “must be inclusive and represent the ethnic and racial​ diversity of the state, including gender and sexual orientation, immigrant status, and religious​ and linguistic background.”

The act would go into effect July 1, 2022, beginning with ninth graders in the 2024-2025 school year successfully completing “a semester-long ethnic studies course to graduate from​ high school.”