TRETON – Governor Phil Murphy today signed legislation (S4021/A6100 and S3764/A3369) ensuring that the contributions, history and heritage of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) are included in the New Jersey Student Learning Standards for Social Studies for students in Kindergarten through Grade 12. S4021 will create an AAPI curriculum requirement for schools and S3764 will establish the Asian American Heritage Commission within the Department of Education.
“The members of our Asian American/Pacific Islander community have contributed so much to our state and our nation,” said Governor Murphy. “By teaching students the history and heritage of our AAPI community, we can ensure our state’s diversity is reflected in our curriculum and create a more tolerant and informed future for New Jersey. I am proud to sign these bills.”
“By incorporating history classes and input from Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, New Jersey schools are able to offer a curriculum that reflects the diversity of our state.” said dr Angelica Allen-McMillan, Acting Commissioner for Education. “In addition, the facility will serve as an invaluable resource for the Commission on Asian American Heritage to improve education across the state.”
“Although Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders continue to make significant and positive contributions to our state, they remain misunderstood and are often the targets of race-based violence and bigotry.” said Senator Vin Gopal. “I am confident that with these new laws and the introduction of learning standards that highlight the history and achievements of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, we will be able to better educate students about Asian American culture and provide a better To foster understanding of the many diverse communities of our state.”
“Members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community have made countless contributions to our state and country, yet they are rendered all but invisible by our history books. This erasure of AAPI history is unacceptable and incredibly damaging to young people, who are being deprived of valuable representation that could positively impact their lives,” he said Meeting sponsors Raj Mukherji, Mila Jasey, Britnee Timberlake and Sterley Stanley in a joint statement on S4021/A6100. “The exclusion of the rich history of the AAPI community from our schools’ curriculum not only prevents students from gaining a full understanding of our nation’s history, but also opens the door to racial prejudice that can translate into violence and hatred. One of New Jersey’s best qualities is its diversity, which we should emphasize in our schools. By expanding the K-12 curriculum with history lessons and input from the AAPI community, we can help break down lingering negative stereotypes and show our state’s more than 140,000 Asian American and Pacific Islander people that their stories and experiences are important.”
“People of Asian descent have been discriminated against well before 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic has clearly exacerbated acts of hate and bigotry.” said Rep. Gordon Johnson, principal sponsor of S3764. “Even more worrying is the fact that many incidents go unreported, leaving the question of how many people have experienced harassment or even violence. Hate has no home in New Jersey, and we have a responsibility to teach our children the importance of tolerance and acceptance.”
“The Asian American and Pacific Islander community has enriched every corner of New Jersey’s culture, economy, schools, arts, businesses and more.” said Rep. Sterley Stanley, the first person of South Asian descent from Middlesex County to join the New Jersey General Assembly and to be a sponsor of S3764. “The programs developed under this bill will help students understand that our state’s diversity is our strength.”
“Representation matters. This bill will ensure that people of Asian descent are included in our students’ curriculum, potentially bringing in-depth Asian history into some classrooms for the first time.” MP Rob Karabinchak said of S3764. “There has never been a more important moment for us to expand children’s understanding of the world around them and to promote inclusion and respect.”
“The Asian American community in New Jersey commends Gov. Murphy and the Legislature for their courageous and timely leadership in incorporating the Asian American experience as part of our public school curriculum.” said dr Kani Ilangovan from Make Us Visible NJ. “All children deserve to know that they belong. All children deserve to feel safe. This law will help ensure Asian Americans are represented in our great American history. According to the latest Stop AAPI Hate report, 1 in 3 AAPI parents said their child has experienced a hate incident at school in the past year. With anti-Asian violence on the rise, education is the best antidote to hatred.”
“I look forward to schools in New Jersey incorporating Asian American history and articles into the public school curriculum. We will be able to feel more visible, safer and that we are valued in our shared history in the country we have built and continue to build together. The most important outcome of this legislation is that it will set the stage for inspiring more younger students to join and contribute to the movement.” said Russell Fan, co-founder of the Livingston AAPI Youth Alliance.
“The Sikh community is pleased that the state of New Jersey is leading the country in passing this law. According to SALDEF’s National Sikh Survey, 58% of the Sikh community have experienced bullying or harassment and this is a positive step in reducing this discrimination.” said Amman Deep Singh Seehra, Vice Chairman of SALDEF. “Students are now learning about the contributions of the AAPI community in the United States, which better reflect our true story and showcase everyone’s contributions.”
“These laws exemplify our values in New Jersey and we are so grateful to Gov. Murphy and the Legislature.” said Amber Reed and Jeffrey Chang of AAPI Montclair. “Amid the tide of anti-Asian hate, we found hope by joining a diverse coalition of parents, advocates, students and lawmakers to use the best tool we have to fight hate: education. All children deserve to know that they matter, that they belong, and that they, too, are part of the history of our country and state. In our own community, we have seen how quickly children’s lives and mental health can improve when their stories are taught in their classrooms. We will continue to work with our partners to ensure the promise of these laws is realized and all New Jersey children grow up with acceptance, belonging and love.”