Amidst Nationwide Textbook Bans, Attorney General Bonta Issues Legal Alert Highlighting Inclusive Education Curricula

Tuesday, January 9, 2024
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

OAKLAND — California Attorney General Rob Bonta issued a legal alert addressed to all California school district boards, county offices of education, and Superintendents emphasizing their obligation to provide inclusive curricula, instructional materials, and books that reflect the roles and contributions of California’s diverse population. This obligation is reinforced by recently-enacted legislation including Assembly Bill (AB) 1078, which expands the right to inclusive curricula and books, and AB 101, which anticipates that, beginning in 2030, all public high school students will complete an ethnic studies course in order to graduate. The announcement comes after Attorney General Bonta, Governor Gavin Newsom, and State Superintendent Tony Thurmond sent a joint letter to all county, district, and charter school officials cautioning against book bans in June 2023. In the legal alert, Attorney General Bonta provides an overview of these laws and stresses the responsibilities of educational institutions to provide a non-biased and inclusive curriculum.

“Every student deserves to see themselves reflected in the stories and lessons we teach within our classrooms,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Our legal alert serves as a guide for educational leaders to actively contribute to the creation of an educational landscape that embraces the rich tapestry of California's diverse population.”

The FAIR Education Act mandates the accurate representation of cultural and racial diversity in educational curricula, particularly in social studies for grades 1-12. Enacted on September 25, 2023, AB 1078 provides additional mechanisms for ensuring that students have textbooks and instructional materials that are standards-aligned, and safeguards curricular materials containing inclusive and diverse perspectives, roles, and contributions from being prohibited by governing boards of school districts, county boards, and charter schools. In October 2021, AB 101 was signed into law, in anticipation that by the 2025-2026 school year, Districts will offer a one-semester high school course in ethnic studies that showcases the diverse histories and contributions of groups in line with California’s Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum. If a school district chooses to adopt an ethnic studies course for this purpose that is not based on the Model curriculum, among other things, it must comply with AB 101’s requirements to teach about the experiences and contributions of diverse communities in an appropriate manner. As California’s chief law officer, Attorney General Bonta plays a role in monitoring compliance of these laws and conducting investigations to address potential violations.

While other states ban books, California is improving educational outcomes and investing tens of billions of dollars to improve literacy. California outperformed most states — including Florida and Texas — in mitigating learning loss during the pandemic, and through historic levels of school funding, the state is building a cohesive structure of support for educators and students that reflects a focus on equity, inclusion, and academic success.

Attorney General Bonta remains committed to ensuring a safe, supportive, and inclusive environment for all students. In December, Attorney General Bonta filed an amicus brief supporting a challenge by teachers, students, and parents to Temecula Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees’ ban of inclusive curriculum and its mandatory gender identity disclosure policy. In October, the Attorney General joined a coalition of 19 attorneys general in an amicus brief in support of a Maryland board of education’s policy that permits schools to incorporate LGBTQ+-inclusive books into language arts curriculum to reflect the diversity of the school community.

A copy of the legal alert is available here.

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