“By teaching students about the history and heritage of our AAPI community, we can ensure that the diversity of our state is reflected in our curriculum and create a more tolerant and knowledgeable future for New Jersey. I am proud to sign these bills into law,” Murphy said in a statement.
In addition, another law will establish a Commission for Asian American Heritage within the state’s Department of Education. One of the commission’s goals will be to provide guidance to public and nonpublic schools in the “implementation of historical, cultural and educational programs concerning people of Asian and Asian American descent,” and help develop curriculum guidelines.
The coalition spent months meeting with schools boards and teacher’s unions to implement AAPI lessons in classrooms, organized rallies and met regularly with state lawmakers.
“All children deserve to know they belong. All children deserve to feel safe. This law will help ensure Asian Americans are represented in our great American story,” said Dr. Kani Ilangovan, a member of the coalition.
Teachers and education researchers previously told CNN that mentions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in school curriculums are limited. And mentions in social studies and history lessons are mostly limited to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and Chinese immigration and their participation in building railroads.
Russell Fan, a high school senior and co-founder of the Livingston AAPI Youth Alliance, said the new laws will help more students feel valued and even encourage them to participate.
“We will be able to feel more visible and safer, and that we are valued in our shared history, in the country we have built and continue to build together,” Fan said in a statement.