NY Congresswoman Introduces Bill to Ensure Students Learn Asian American History

grace meng

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) introduced a bill on Tuesday that promotes the teaching and learning of Asian Pacific American history in schools.

The legislation’s announcement fell on the 42nd anniversary of President Jimmy Carter’s enactment of the Asian Pacific American Heritage Week, which President George H. W. Bush later extended to the month-long celebration we know today.

Meng previously introduced a resolution condemning anti-Asian sentiment amid the COVID-19 pandemic. She hopes that the Teaching Asian Pacific American History Act (H.R. 8519) will ensure that students learn about the often-forgotten impact of Asian Pacific Americans.

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Topics of interest include the history of Asian and Pacific Islander peoples in the settling and founding of America, as well as the social, economic and political environments that led to discriminatory laws targeting the group and their relation to current events. Contributions to the development and enhancement of American life, history, literature, economy, politics, laws and culture will also be covered.

“For decades, our children’s social studies textbooks have misrepresented, or excluded, the history of Asian Pacific Americans. Our children are graduating from high school without learning of the important contributions the Asian Pacific American community has made throughout our nation’s history. They are also graduating without learning of the disenfranchisement and discrimination Asian Pacific Americans have faced at the hands of the United States government,” Meng said.

“I firmly believe we cannot fully empower our students to be strong and empathetic leaders without teaching them all of America’s history — both the good and the bad.”

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Asian Pacific Americans have played an integral part in shaping American society as early as the 1700s. Unfortunately, their contributions are barely recognized in current textbooks and other learning resources.

“Our school teachings need to reflect the diversity of the American experience and accurately portray the history of Asian Pacific Americans. I urge my colleagues to support this legislation,” Meng added.

H.R. 8519 will require Presidential and Congressional Academies to include Asian Pacific American history as part of their American history and civics programs offered to students and teachers. Hundreds attend such academies annually for an in-depth study of American history, which includes field trips to important sites.

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The bill will also encourage the inclusion of Asian Pacific American history in national and state tests administered through the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Additionally, it will promote collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution’s Asian Pacific American Center to develop innovative programs on the subject.

Feature Image via Rep. Grace Meng

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