Two Pennsylvania state senators, Indian American Nikil Saval and Maria Collett, have introduced a bill that incorporates Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) instruction in K-12 schools.
Introduced on Thursday, Senate Bill 839 will require the Department of Education to create “an integrated curriculum that includes AAPI persons, history and contributions to American society” and provide AAPI-related materials to schools.
Additionally, it will commission the State Board of Education to study how school districts are teaching the AAPI curriculum and ensure that students are receiving “robust instruction on AAPI history and social contributions.”
The legislation will serve as a companion to House Bill 779, which was introduced by State Rep. Patty Kim.
Every student deserves the chance to “see their heritage honored as part of the broad fabric of the American experience,” Saval said.
“When we are granted occasion to learn about each other’s lives, families, and histories, we begin to see how much we share, and how deep our stake is in a world that supports all of us,” he said. “It is only then that we can stand together, in solidarity and work to build that world.”
The bill was conceived to expand education and confront the rise in bias crimes against people of AAPI descent.
According to the latest Stop AAPI Hate National Report, Pennsylvania ranked seventh for hate incident reports filed between March 2020 and December 2021.
Florida, ranked eighth, became the latest state to pass AAPI-inclusive curriculum legislation into law in May 2023.
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A University of Pennsylvania student research found that more than three-quarters of the 224 Asian students it surveyed had been victims of or witnesses to anti-Asian racism on campus, in the city, or elsewhere during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Saval and Collett highlighted the importance of passing the legislation in a news release. Collett said she has received many concerned messages since the rise in anti-Asian attacks, all “calling for education to address these prejudices before they take root.”
“This bill is an important first step to make sure our education system reflects all of our peoples’ histories,” she said.