Trenton – In an effort to expand the cultural education of New Jersey students, the Senate advanced legislation sponsored by Senator Vin Gopal and Senator M. Teresa Ruiz, which would require school districts to provide instruction on history and contributions of Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) as part of the implementation of New Jersey student learning standards in social studies.
“Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made great contributions to American history and our children’s curriculum should reflect this,” said Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth). “By expanding the cultural enrichment that is taught in our classrooms, students can have a better understanding for their peers and others. The United States is an ever-growing melting pot and our public education should reflect this. It is far overdue.”
The bill, S-4021, would require a board of education to include instruction on the history and contributions of AAPI individuals, develop policies and procedures to select the curriculum of students in grades K-12, and adopt inclusive instructional materials that portray the cultural and economic diversity of the AAPI community.
“All New Jersey students should see themselves reflected in their classroom materials and be given the opportunity to learn about the contributions of people of all backgrounds,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex), chair of the Senate Education Committee. “New Jersey is home to robust, diverse AAPI communities which have had an immense impact on our country and state. By expanding the cultural enrichment that is taught in our classrooms, students will learn about themselves as well as develop a greater understanding and appreciation for their peers and the world around them.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a significant rise in anti-Asian racism and violence. Activists and lawmakers throughout the U.S. have been pushing to establish AAPL curriculums in schools to address the racism and lack of cultural education and understanding. Asian American and Pacific Islanders represent 10% of New Jersey’s population and are the fastest-growing racial group in the state.
The legislation was released from the Senate by a vote of 34-2.