Senate passes Cano’s bill requiring Asian American history and culture be taught in schools


            STATE HOUSE – The Senate passed legislation (2022-S 2910A) today sponsored by Sen. Sandra Cano (D-Dist. 8, Pawtucket) 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.

            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 bill 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.

            “When confronted with the rising cases of discrimination against Asian Americans, this legislation aims to educate and hopefully reduce bias and prevent violence against our friends and neighbors from the Asian American communities.  In Rhode Island, Chinese Americans have been and continue to be important contributors in our local communities as small business owners, artists, developers, professionals, community activists and every day residents who have been here for generations, along with other Asian communities, to make Rhode Island a great place to live.  I am proud to represent many members of our state’s Asian American community and I thank them for giving me the honor of sponsoring this bipartisan legislation on their behalf, in particular to the RI Association of Chinese American who have been tremendous advocates for the passage of this important bill,” concluded Senator Cano.

            The bill now heads to the House for consideration.