Harrisburg, Pa. – September 7, 2023 — To expand education and confront the rise in bias crimes against people of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) descent, State Senators Maria Collett (D-12 Montgomery) and Nikil Saval (D-1 Philadelphia) have introduced Senate Bill 839 to incorporate AAPI curriculums and materials at Pennsylvania schools.
“I’ve received many messages from constituents expressing safety concerns given the rise of attacks on Asian Americans since COVID and calling for education to address these prejudices before they take root,” said Senator Collett. “This bill is an important first step to make sure our education system reflects all of our peoples’ histories.”
According to the most recent Stop AAPI Hate National Report, Pennsylvania ranked seventh for hate incident reports filed between March 2020 and December 2021. Florida, ranked eighth, became the latest state to pass AAPI-inclusive curriculum legislation into law in May 2023.
“Every student in our Commonwealth deserves the opportunity to see their heritage honored as part of the broad fabric of the American experience,” said Senator Saval. “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. It is only then that we can stand together, in solidarity, and work to build that world.”
Make Us Visible PA commented: “We must all learn and recognize that AAPI history is American history. This bill will help us continue to have conversations within our communities about the importance of including AAPI history in K-12 schools. As we continue to see a rise in hate, bullying, and violence, our hope is for everyone to learn about how we contributed to what is now the United States of America, so we can be seen as neighbors instead of as foreigners or threats.”
The legislation will be a companion to Representative Patty Kim’s HB 779 and would require the Department of Education to create an integrated curriculum that includes AAPI persons, history, and contributions to American society and to provide AAPI-related materials to schools. This bill would also commission a study by the State Board of Education to see how school districts in Pennsylvania are teaching AAPI curriculum across the state and ensure our students are receiving robust instruction on AAPI history and social contributions.