New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed S4021/A6100, a new law Tuesday that will require the contributions and history of Asian Americans to be taught in public schools.
“The members of our Asian American/Pacific Islander community have contributed so much to our state and nation,” Governor Murphy said in a press release. “By teaching students about the history and heritage of our AAPI community, we can ensure that the diversity of our state is reflected in our curriculum and create a more tolerant and knowledgeable future for New Jersey. I am proud to sign these bills into law.”
The law has been championed by a group called Make Us Visible NJ. The group advocates for the “thoughtful and comprehensive inclusion of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) studies into K-12 curriculum for New Jersey public schools.”
Make Us Visible has held rallies in support of the law.
“The New Jersey Asian American community applauds Governor Murphy and the Legislature for their bold and timely leadership incorporating the Asian American experience as part of our public school curriculum,” Dr. Kani Ilangovan of Make Us Visible NJ said in a press release.
Last month, Asian American students testified before the Senate Education Committee in support of the law.
“Not having Asian Americans seen in our curriculum sends a message. It sends a message to me: I’m invisible,” high school student Christina Huang said during her testimony, according to a press release. “That I don’t matter. Asian Americans have been contributing like other communities we learn about in school. Asian WWII vets who fought under the 442nd Regiment, and Olympians like Chloe Kim. My hope is that this law will not just open people’s minds but also open people’s hearts.”
Advocates hope that incorporating Asian American studies into school curriculums will help stem the rise in anti-Asian hate.
“Asian Americans have been battling two pandemics – COVID-19 and hate,” Assemblymember Raj Mukherji, the bill’s lead Assembly sponsor, said in a press release. “Like all forms of hate, it usually comes from a place of ignorance. So at least for the next generation, the hope is that learning about the history of these immigrant communities and their American story will serve to educate and curb discrimination and bullying that could lead – and has led – to youth suicides.”
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