Two Pennsylvania state senators introduced on Thursday a bill that incorporates Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) instruction in K-12 schools.
About the bill: Senate Bill 839, introduced by State Sens. Maria Collett and Nikil Saval, 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.
Why this matters: The bill was conceived to help fight anti-Asian hate crimes. The latest Stop AAPI Hate national report ranked Pennsylvania as the state with the seventh largest number of hate incident reports.
For one, 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 in campus, the city or elsewhere during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What the senators are saying: Collett and Saval 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.
Meanwhile, Saval, who is Indian American, said every student deserves the chance to “see their heritage honored as part of the broad fabric of the American experience.”
“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.”