HomeCampusOrange County develops curricula on Southeast Asian heritage

Orange County develops curricula on Southeast Asian heritage

Schools in southern California will be receiving three detailed curricula to teach students about Southeast Asian history and heritage.

The Orange County Department of Education (OCDE) is developing the statewide Southeast Asian Model Curriculum Project in collaboration with community members and local researchers. The three model curricula will each center on the history, culture and immigrant experiences of Cambodian, Hmong and Vietnamese Americans. 

According to the Orange County Register, the curriculum includes materials to assist educators and will be available for grades from kindergarten to high school. Although it is not mandatory for any school to adopt the curriculum, those who choose to teach these subjects will be able to rely on the model curriculum for resources.

A glimpse of the developing curriculum in its current form shows a primary focus on the history and migration of the three population groups. This includes perspectives on the Cambodian genocide, the Hmong contribution to a CIA-led operation during the Vietnam War and discussions around the circumstances that led to the resettlement of Vietnamese migrants in the U.S.

“Each model curriculum will present ideas, lessons, examples and resources for school districts to consider as they develop their own coursework,” Ian Hanigan, a spokesperson for OCDE, told the Orange County Register. “It will live on a website that can be accessed by educators and searched by content standards. The curriculum may be used as part of history, social studies or language courses or included in a district’s ethnic studies program.”

The OCDE Newsroom reports that the community is invited to participate in public engagement sessions to develop the curriculum, ensuring that the drafted lessons can best reflect lived experiences. 

California State Senator Janet Ngueyn was behind the state legislation that propelled the development of the model curriculum, and the project received $1.2 million in funding from the state.

“I think it is important in Orange County, especially around Little Saigon in Westminster, because it helps friends, neighbors and children understand the history,” said Nguyen, according to the Orange County Register. “Once we understand each other’s history and our differences, it is when the community becomes better and works together.”

The current plan is to have a revised version of the curricula by spring 2024, according to OCDE Newsroom.

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