Ethnic studies graduation requirement gaining support in Washington

The Washington State Board of Education has voted unanimously to adopt a resolution to establish an ethnic studies graduation requirement.

The Seattle Times reports resolutions are nonbinding agreements that move the Board toward adopting a policy and this one doesn’t say when the requirement would go into effect.

But it has some teeth. As part of the resolution, Board representatives and staff members will take ethnic studies and anti-racist training in the form of nine two-hour Friday sessions between April and August to be led by the local nonprofit Washington Ethnic Studies Now.

Proponents say ethnic studies is a framework that allows participants to share their perspectives, achievements, traditions and experiences. It’s designed to help eradicate fear, structural racism and social inequities by promoting knowledge and understanding.

RELATED: Gov. Inslee signs measure waiving some graduation requirements for individual students

Executive Director Randy Spaulding described the resolution’s adoption as the beginning of a lengthy process to create an ethnic studies policy. "The Board is walking the walk here," he said, and it will do "the same training that we’re asking the educators to do."

The Board has tasked itself with drafting the new ethnic studies graduation requirement to fit within the existing credit framework by December.

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