Assemblymember Lee & Senator Liu Introduce Bill to Mandate Inclusion of Asian American History in New York Public Schools

This bill will mandate the inclusion of Asian American History into New York’s public school curriculum as a means to help dispel the ignorance and prejudice that has fueled the recent rise in anti-Asian hate in the state.

Albany, NY – Assemblymember Grace Lee and State Senator John Liu have introduced legislation in the New York Assembly (A6579) and Senate (S5963) to mandate the inclusion of Asian American History into New York’s public school curriculum. This bill is being introduced in tandem with broader efforts by the Representing and Empowering AANHPI History (REACH) Coalition to ensure Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander history (AANHPI) is being taught in New York State public schools.

At present, New York State public schools do not have a mandate to include Asian American History in their curriculum, meaning lessons are often devoid of content related to the experience of Asian Americans in the United States and the impact they have had on the country’s history. This absence has created a vacuum in which it is easier for harmful stereotypes about Asians to be disseminated, including those labeling them as “unassimilable foreigners” or “model minorities.” These prejudices marginalize Asian Americans and have contributed to the more than 300% increase in hate crimes they have suffered since the pandemic. If Asian American History is taught in New York’s public schools, these stereotypes will not be allowed the same space to grow and will help curb the rise in hate affecting Asian Americans.

“We must take action against the lack of recognition of Asian American communities in our education system that has contributed to a frightening increase in anti-Asian hate and violence,” said Assemblymember Grace Lee. “Our voices and our stories deserve to be heard and recognized, and that starts at the grade school level, a curriculum from which Asian American history and culture have been excluded for too long. Thank you to Senator John Liu for his leadership in the Senate, to the REACH coalition for their continued efforts and support, and to all of those who have fought and will continue to fight for our stories to be recognized for what they are - part of American history.”

"Integrating the Asian American experience into the public school curriculum would not only allow Asian American children the chance to finally see themselves reflected accurately in American history,” said State Senator John Liu, “but it is a critical step in dismantling the endless barrage of anti-Asian stereotypes that categorize Asian Americans as either the perpetual foreigners or the seemingly-benign but equally destructive model minority. Thank you to Assembly Member Grace Lee for championing this legislation in the Assembly, and to all the families, educators and advocates across the state who continue fighting to make sure our voices are heard, our histories are learned, and our experiences are understood.”

"We are excited to see S5963/A6579 reintroduced in the New York State Legislature by Senator John Liu and Assemblymember Grace Lee," said the members of the REACH Coalition Steering Committee in a joint statement. "REACH is a growing intersectional and statewide coalition with more than 170 students, parents, educators, community members, and 60+ organizations that have come together to fight for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander history. This bill is essential to addressing the resurgence of anti-Asian violence, fostering identity development for all students, and creating learning environments that prevent misunderstandings and stereotypes that can lead to bullying. REACH looks forward to continuing work with Sen. John Liu and AM Grace Lee to ensure that Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander history is taught in schools.”

"We are proud to co-lead the REACH coalition and work alongside Senator Liu and Assemblymember Lee to ensure that the history and contributions of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities are taught in New York State public schools," said Kulsoom Tapal, Education Policy Coordinator at the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families. "This legislation is an important step in dismantling the model minority myth and building solidarity with other historically marginalized communities. We know that inclusive and diverse curricula are vital for creating a safe and supportive environment for all students, regardless of background, and we look forward to continuing this work with our community partners and elected officials."

“The New York chapter of the Organization of Chinese Americans – Asian Pacific American Advocates (OCA-NY) applauds Assemblymember Grace Lee for introducing A6579,” said Brianna Cea, President, OCA-NY and Co-Leader of REACH, “as it gives current and future generations of students a real chance to learn the rich history of accomplishments and struggles of AANHPIs throughout the history of the United States. As the Co-leaders of the REACH coalition, we look forward to working with Assemblymember Lee and State Senator John Liu to ensure our state representatives understand the importance of every classroom having a curriculum that accurately reflects and empowers our diverse communities."

"The history and lived experiences of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, Indigenous, Latinx, and Black communities are intertwined. In the face of anti-Asian hate, anti-Black violence, and book bans, it is critical that our PreK-20 school curriculum illuminates the history of our stories, contributions, and solidarity of our multiracial communities," said Judy W. Yu and Yoldana Sealey-Ruiz, Ph.D., co-founders of the Black and Asian Solidarity Collective. "By developing and implementing a well-researched and diverse AANHPI curriculum, it is one way that we can ensure the voices and legacy of our historically marginalized communities are honored as public scholarship for all."

"Assembly Bill A6579 is a crucial step towards creating an inclusive and safe learning environment for all students in New York," said Jeehae Fisher, Executive Director of the The Korean American Family Service Center. "The exclusion of AANHPI history from current social studies curricula not only deprives AANHPI students of seeing themselves in the education they receive but also perpetuates ignorance and hostility towards their communities. By requiring public schools to provide instruction on the history and contributions of AANHPI communities, this bill will not only promote racial equity and social justice but also enhance academic performance and graduation rates. KAFSC urges state lawmakers to join the REACH coalition in supporting this critical legislation and bringing New York one step closer to an inclusive classroom for all.”