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California may soon include AANHPI history lessons in K-12 curriculum

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California's Instructional Quality Commission is set to implement an expanded curriculum in K-12 classrooms to integrate lessons on Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) history.

About the initiative: The commission is eyeing to include comprehensive AANHPI history lessons in the statewide K-12 history-social science curriculum, reported the Sacramento Bee. According to the California Department of Education, the process of developing the educational framework is expected to take approximately three years.

About AB 1354: The initiative follows the passing of Assembly Bill 1354, which was introduced by Assemblyman Mike Fong and signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom last September. According to Fong, the legislation aims to spotlight the societal contributions of AANHPI communities in the state and nation's historical education.

AB 1354 specifically requires the instructional commission to consider incorporating "examples of racism, discrimination and violence” against Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in the U.S. into the curriculum.

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Fighting anti-Asian hate: The initiative has gained support from organizations such as the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association and Stop AAPI Hate. With over 15.5% of California's population belonging to AAPI communities, supporters argue that accurate teachings can be a powerful tool against racism and hate crimes.

Advocates are now urging legislators nationwide to adopt similar measures and ensure a more inclusive representation of AANHPI history in American education.

Similar legislation across states: In July 2021, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed the Teaching Equitable Asian American History Act (TEAACH Act), marking a historic moment as the first state to mandate public schools to include a unit studying the "events of Asian American history." In May 2023, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed HB 1537 mandating AAPI history inclusion in the state's K-12 curriculum, effective July 1.

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Wisconsin legislators, led by Sen. Jesse James, introduced SB 240 in April 2023, proposing mandatory instructional programs on Asian Americans, specifically spotlighting Hmong Americans. Meanwhile, New York State legislators introduced SB S5963 in May 2023, currently under review in the Senate Education Committee, emphasizing the growing recognition of the imperative for accurate AAPI historical representation.

 

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