Wisconsin advances bill mandating Asian American history studies in schools 

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A bill mandating that Asian American history be taught in Wyoming state schools inched closer this week after a state Senate committee voted to advance the bill.

The state’s Senate committee on Tuesday voted 6-1 to advance the legislation, SB240, which would mandate teachings on Asian and Hmong Americans for grades K-12 in the Equality State. 

Current state law requires schools to instruct on “an understanding of human relations” with regards to American Indians, Black Americans, and Hispanics, with the bill proposal tacking Hmong and Asian Americans onto this mandate.

“It allows … for there to be an understanding amongst students, teachers and administrators about the importance of Asian American stories in our history,” state Rep. Francesca Hong (D) told NBC News. Hong was one of several lawmakers to cosponsor the bill. 

Similar mandates have been in Connecticut, Illinois and New Jersey, The Hill previously reported. 

Asian Americans make up about 3 percent of Wisconsin’s population, with the state’s Asian American and Pacific Islander increasing by 82 percent since 2000, per a AAPI Vote fact-sheet.

Hong told NBC News similar proposals have been in the works for years and in 2005, lawmakers tried to pass a bill mandating the teaching of the role Hmong soldiers had in fighting for the U.S. during the Vietnam War. The bill did not make it to early public hearings and similar legislation introduced in subsequent sessions also failed, NBC News reported. 

“With me being the first and only Asian American legislator in the Legislature, I was able to leverage both the uptick of anti-Asian hate since the COVID pandemic, in addition to having my colleagues recognize how important, especially the Hmong and Lao community, have been to their districts and how powerful they are as a voting bloc,” she told NBC News. 

The bill comes amid a larger push in the AAPI community for more Asian American history in the school curriculum. Efforts include hoping to ensure students learn about points in history, such as Japanese internment camps during World War II and how Chinese Americans defended American soil during the Civil War. 

The full state Senate could take up the bill by March, NBC added.

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