The General Assembly of Rhode Island passed a bill Friday that would require classrooms to teach kids about Asian American history and culture. Rhode Island has become the fourth state to do this.
According to ABC6, once signed by the governor, the bill would require all public and secondary schools in Rhode Island to have at least one class of instruction on Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander history and culture. Classes would begin in the 2023-2024 school year.
The bill is sponsored by Senator Sandra Cano and Rep. Barbara Ann Fenton-Fung.
Cano expressed how the growing Asian American population in the state should be celebrated and impact classrooms.
“According to the 2020 Census, Rhode Island’s Asian American community has grown 28 percent over the last decade and in order to ensure that our society respects the dignity of all races and peoples, it is important that our children learn about the history and contributions made by the various different cultures within our state. This is true of our state’s growing Asian American population and this bill will teach our students about the rich culture and history of their Asian American friends and neighbors,” she said in a statement.
Fenton-Fung made a statement as well, emphasizing the importance of this bill for Asian American students.
“When talking to Asian American students about this bill, they told me they had never been assigned material to read by an Asian American author and that they had never learned about their history or culture in school. Combined with the rising bias against Asian Americans, there is a clear need to break this cycle of cultural misunderstandings and this legislation is a good first step in that direction, acknowledging and celebrating the instrumental role that Asian Americans have had in our state, country and culture.”
The bill is headed to Governor Daniel McKee’s desk to be signed into law.
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