Florida public schools may soon be required to teach Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) history to its students if a new bill passes.
Last Thursday, Florida State Representative Susan Plasencia (D, FL-40) filed House Bill 287 in an effort to implement AAPI studies in Florida public schools.
The proposed bill calls for updated school curricula to include:
The history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, including the immigration, citizenship, civil rights, identity, and culture of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and the contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to American society.
Plasencia’s district covers parts of Orange County, which has one of the highest concentrations of AAPIs in Florida.
The United States Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey lists an estimated 620,260 Asians and 12,453 Pacific Islanders residing in Florida.
On Thursday, Florida State Senator Linda Stewart (D, FL-13) announced Senate Bill 294 with bipartisan support from co-sponsor State Senator Ana Maria Rodriguez (R, FL-39).
In Thursday’s press release, Stewart, who had been working towards getting the legislation passed since last year, said, “It is necessary now more than ever to educate young people on different cultures given the Asian-American hate crimes that have been happening across the country, most recently with the mass shootings in California.”
If the bill is signed into law, school districts will be required to provide proof of Asian American studies being included in their updated curriculum.
This change will not add financial costs to schools, according to Stewart.
“I just want us to recognize the Asian American culture and teach the young people about that culture,” Stewart said. “If they learn about it, then they are less likely to go on the street and beat ‘em up because that’s what they are doing. They are shooting them and beating them up.”
“Incorporating Asian studies in the classroom allows students to uncover fresh global perspectives,” said Rodriguez. “Through its culturally diverse and rich history, students will gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of the Asian community.”
If passed, the bill, which has bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, may go into effect as early as the 2023-2024 academic school year.