The state Board of Education has finally adopted a model curriculum on human rights and genocide after months of protests from ethnic minorities who wanted their histories told in California schools.
The final adoption last week came with the inclusion of a section on the slaughter of Poles at the hands of the Nazis during World War II, and was the result of protests from Polish-Americans that it had not been included in earlier drafts.
The curriculum became the focus of complaints from many groups, including Lithuanians, Estonians, Latin Americans, American Indians, Turks, Armenians and homosexuals, who felt the state's school children should learn how they have been discriminated against throughout history.
The final version contains only nine suggested case studies of man's inhumanity to man: American slavery, the treatment of American Indians, the Holocaust, the extermination of two million Cambodians by the Khmer Rouge regime beginning in 1970, the Armenian genocide in 1915, South African apartheid, the Ukrainian famine in the Stalinist era, the slaughter of Poles and the treatment of political dissidents under Argentina's recently deposed military dictatorship.
State schools chief Bill Honig said the short case studies set out were never intended to be a comprehensive list of injustices throughout history. They were meant as examples teachers could use.
"Basically, we want to stress why we have democratic protections and what happens when those protections don't exist," Honig said.
The model curriculum is required by legislation authored last year by Assemblyman Charles Calderon (D-Montebello). It was delayed in adoption for nearly a year, partly because of protests from minority groups.
The model curriculum is not mandatory, but is suggested for social studies between grades 7 and 12.