FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Kulsoom Tapal, Coalition for Asian American Children and Families (ktapal@cacf.org)

Senate Bill 5963A for AANHPI Education Passes on the NY Senate Floor

May 23, 2024 (Albany, NY) – On Tuesday, May 21, Senate Bill 5963A (S5963A) passed unanimously in the New York State Senate. This bill, and its companion, Assembly Bill 6579A, would require the New York State Board of Regents and Education Commissioner to establish Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) history and civic impact curriculum or instruction for school districts. A6589A has yet to advance in the Assembly.  

The passage of S5963A occurred shortly after the REACH (Representing and Empowering AANHPI Community History) Coalition held its second annual Advocacy Day in Albany, NY. During this Advocacy Day, dozens of REACH Coalition members including students, educators, parents and community advocates met with elected officials to discuss the need for AANHPI curriculum in K-12 schools and advocate for this measure.

The following quotes are attributable to organizational leaders and community advocates who are a part of the REACH Coalition, which has advocated for this measure—and safer, more inclusive schools for AANHPI students—since 2023:

Brianna Cea, REACH Coalition Co-Lead and Immediate Past President of OCA-NY: “OCA-NY and REACH are thrilled that S5963A passed the Senate, underscoring the critical need for AANHPI curriculum to be taught in schools across New York State as a way to combat Anti-Asian hate and foster acceptance and inclusivity amongst our youth. We commend the Senate for their leadership in paving the way for inclusive curriculum that reflects our diverse communities and urge the Assembly to follow their footsteps by passing A6579A immediately.”

Anita Gundanna and Vanessa Leung, Co-Executive Directors for the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families (CACF): “With the passage of S5963 in the New York State Senate, we are one step closer to getting an Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander curriculum in New York State’s public schools. CACF urges the New York State Assembly to take the Senate’s lead and pass the AANHPI curriculum bill this session. Since our founding, CACF has believed that learning the rich and diverse histories of AANHPI communities in school is a vital step to combatting both the ‘perpetual foreigner’ and ‘model minority’ stereotypes of AANHPI communities. These stereotypes have contributed to our communities' struggles, and have served as a wedge in our critical work in solidarity across communities of color. We are proud to co-lead the REACH Coalition as they lead the push for inclusive curriculum in our schools.”

Harmeet Kaur Kamboj, Senior State Policy Manager of the Sikh Coalition: “The Sikh Coalition is honored to have worked with the REACH Coalition to advocate for equitable and well-informed education policies that can transform lives and create a brighter future for children in our communities. The passage of S5963A is a testament to the fact that when advocates, volunteers, community leaders, and elected officials come together for a deeply important and impactful cause, change can happen; now, we hope that the Assembly will show a similar commitment to inclusive education by advancing A6589A.” 

Mohamed Q. Amin, Founder and Executive Director of the Caribbean Equality Project: “Indo-Caribbean history is Asian American history. The Caribbean Equality Project applauds the New York Senate on passing the AANHPI curriculum bill (S5963). For the second year, this monumental legislative victory is the first step to creating a pathway for amplifying the diversity and intersectionality of NY's Asian American community's history in NY schools' curriculum. New York State is home to the largest Indo-Caribbean foreign-born population in the United States, many of whom live in immigrant communities like Schenectady, Richmond Hill, and South Ozone Park in Queens, and Castle Hill and Wakefield in the Bronx. Teaching Indo-Caribbean history is critical in honoring the legacy, struggles, and resilience of thousands of indentured laborers trafficked to the Caribbean and the double migration of their descendants. These descendants now contribute to the ethnic diversity and economy of New York, which fosters cultural competency, strengthens cross-racial solidarity, combats anti-Asian hate violence, builds political power, and ensures representation in public education. Asian American history Matters! New York State must teach a curriculum that reflects the diversity of the classrooms. We call on the New York State Assembly to stand in solidarity with their colleagues and the Asian communities by passing the AANHPI curriculum bill A6579.”

Richard In, Esq., Executive Director of the Korean American Civic Empowerment: “The passing of Senate Bill S5963A is one important step out of many toward a more well-rounded education curriculum for all students in New York State. Inclusion of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander histories and civic impact in American and New York State histories has been lacking and absent for far too long. Leaving out histories and minimizing communities lead to bullying, racist rhetoric (such as the model minority myth and being treated as a perpetual foreigner regardless of whether one was born an American citizen), and inevitably violence towards our communities. The creation of diverse curricula will empower and equip our educators with additional tools and preventative measures against those things and their negative effects on the mental health of our young people. Our students deserve a well-rounded and complete education in an environment where they are respected. Thus we call upon our legislators and decision makers to continue to advocate for our young people and to continue making important steps in the right direction.”

Shivana Jorawar, Executive Director of the Jahajee Sisters: “Asian American history is an integral part of American history. As Indo-Caribbeans much of our history has been lost to us because of the migration of our ancestors through the colonial system of indentureship. We need to include history in the curriculum to ensure the end of hate violence by increasing knowledge and empathy. It is crucial for future generations to feel safe in their cultural identities, seen for who they are and who they can be, and celebrated for the resiliency of their history. This bill is an essential part of ensuring better mental health and cultural affirmation for children and teens across the state.”

Beatrice Chen, Executive Director of the Immigrant Social Services, Inc. (ISS): “Immigrant Social Services, Inc. (ISS) applauds the New York State Senate for their decisive action in passing the AANHPI curriculum bill (S5963). This legislation represents a significant step forward towards more inclusive curriculum for everyone. As a community based non-profit serving immigrant families, we have seen first hand the success of inclusive curriculum; our youth are more empowered and confident when they see themselves and their identities meaningfully represented in the classrooms. We extend our gratitude to the New York State Senate and call upon the New York State Assembly to pass A6579.”

Ayesha Fatima, Administrative Coordinator of the Asian American Institute for Research and Engagement: “This bill will facilitate the creation of a curriculum that is inclusive of our communities, this will empower our students and normalize our communities.”

Clifford Robin Temprosa, Director of Public Policy of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations-New York: “NaFFAA commends the legislative body of the New York State Senate for taking the necessary steps in fighting for an inclusive curriculum across New York. We are at a critical juncture in society that will write the legacies of generations to come. It is imperative that we address the needs of AAPI New Yorkers to be able to see themselves through a racially just lens, and not through a Eurocentric view that has blurred the lines of history.”

###

The REACH Coalition was formed in January 2023 to advocate for inclusive AANHPI education measures, including SB5963A and A6579A. The statewide coalition includes more than 170 students, parents, educators, and advocates, as well as more than 60 community-based organizations fighting for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander history. For more information about our work or to interview REACH Coalition members and community advocates, please contact ktapal@cacf.org