Bills Aim to Add Asian American History to Wisconsin Schools’ Curriculum and Raise Visibility

Wisconsin state lawmakers are hoping to bring Asian American history to schools through Senate Bill 379 and Assembly Bill 381 which will require school boards to provide curriculum on Asian Americans, or as the bills specify, “Hmong Americans and Asian Pacific Islander Desi Americans” (APIDA).

The act would amend current state law, which says school boards must provide learning materials on American Indians, Black Americans, and Hispanics.

Rep. Francesca Hong, one of the authors of the bills said, at its core, it’s about “increasing visibility”.

Kabby Hong, an English teacher at Verona Area High School, who identifies as Korean American, said, “I feel like you can’t have a sense of pride in yourself and who you are without understanding your history.”

Hong added, “[and] the events of the last two years with the explosion of hate crimes has really shown how much we need to do to educate not only our students but our community as well.”

Lorna Young, AAPI Coalition of Wisconsin executive committee member said that the amended law “will benefit all students so that as they move on to college and/or into the work world, they are able to learn to relate to and understand people of APIDA backgrounds that are different from their own.”

Lawmakers and advocacy group leaders have also shown their support for the proposed legislation.

Both bills are in their respective education committees, and Rep. Hong said that the community is demanding action, starting with a public hearing.

The Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB) is working on another channel to include Asian American history and culture into the curriculum, aside from the legislative route.

WASB passed a resolution encouraging public schools to create learning materials and professional training about Asian Americans. The group also requests the state Legislature to fund the development of a curriculum.