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State of Rhode Island General Assembly
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Assembly passes Sen. Cano and Rep. Fenton-Fung’s bill requiring Asian American history and culture be taught in schools
STATE HOUSE – The General Assembly today passed legislation (
) sponsored by Sen. Sandra Cano and Rep. Barbara Ann Fenton-Fung which would require all public elementary and secondary schools in Rhode Island to provide at least one unit of instruction on Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander History and culture.
“According to the 2020 Census, Rhode Island’s Asian American community has grown 28 percent over the last decade and in order to ensure that our society respects the dignity of all races and peoples, it is important that our children learn about the history and contributions made by the various different cultures within our state. This is true of our state’s growing Asian American population and this bill will teach our students about the rich culture and history of their Asian American friends and neighbors,” said Senator Cano (D-Dist. 8, Pawtucket).
“When talking to Asian American students about this bill, they told me they had never been assigned material to read by an Asian American author and that they had never learned about their history or culture in school. Combined with the rising bias against Asian Americans, there is a clear need to break this cycle of cultural misunderstandings and this legislation is a good first step in that direction, acknowledging and celebrating the instrumental role that Asian Americans have had in our state, country and culture,” said Representative Fenton-Fung (R-Dist. 15, Cranston).
Beginning with the 2023-2024 school year, the bill would require every public elementary school and secondary school to include in its curriculum a unit of instruction studying the events of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) history, including the history of AA and NHPIs in Rhode Island and the Northeast, as well as the contributions of AA and NHPIs toward advancing civil rights from the 19th century onward. These events shall include the contributions made by individual AA and NHPIs in government and the arts, humanities, and sciences, as well as the contributions of AA and NHPI communities to the economic, cultural, social, and political development of the United States.
The act directs the commissioner of elementary and secondary education to make available to all school districts instructional materials that may be used as guidelines for development of a unit of instruction under this section. However, each school district shall itself determine the minimum amount of instructional time that qualifies as a unit of instruction satisfying the requirements of this section.
The legislation now heads to the governor’s desk for consideration.
For more information, contact:
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
Lt. Governor's Office
Secretary of State
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