Hate is on the rise in Pennsylvania. Frequently inspired by ignorance and encouraged with dog whistles, a resurgence of bigoted rhetoric is being focused on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
State Senators Maria Collett (D-12) and Nikil Saval (D-1) introduced Senate Bill 839 on Thursday to expand education and incorporate AAPI curriculums and materials in school districts across Pennsylvania.
“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, whose district includes communities in Bucks and Montgomery Counties. “This bill is an important first step to make sure our education system reflects all of our peoples’ histories.”
Hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have been steadily rising in Pennsylvania, surging 339 percent nationwide from 2020 to 2021, according to NBC.
“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,” Senator Saval said. “It is only then that we can stand together, in solidarity, and work to build that world.”
The proposed law would require the Department of Education to create an integrated curriculum that includes AAPI persons, history, and contributions to American society along with providing AAPI-related materials to schools. Additionally, a study by the State Board of Education would be commissioned to determine how school districts in Pennsylvania are teaching AAPI studies and ensure our students are receiving comprehensive instruction on AAPI history.
“We must all learn and recognize that AAPI history is American history,” commented Make Us Visible PA. “This bill will help us continue to have conversations within our communities about the importance of including AAPI history in K-12 schools.”
“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.