TEACH MI HISTORY
Asian American Pacific Islander History in Michigan Schools
The Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community is the fastest-growing population group in the United States and Michigan. As of 2023, AAPI communities comprise more than 4% of Michigan state’s population, a 41% increase since 2010. Over that same period, the number of eligible AAPI voters in Michigan grew by 59% compared to a 4% change for the statewide eligible voters.
A bill introduced in 2022 by State Senator Stephanie Chang would require public schools to teach the history and civic impact of AAPIs in Michigan and the US. This was part of an ethnic studies bill package that also included African American and Black; Latin American, Hispanic American, and Caribbean American; Indigenous Peoples and Native Americans; Middle Easterners and Chaldean history. The legislation package will ensure that the cultures of people of color and indigenous communities' voices, contributions, and histories are uplifted in public schools across Michigan. Rising Voices, parents, educators, advocates, and partner organizations across the state are working with Senator Stephanie Chang and Representative Ranjeev Puri to reintroduce the bill in the 2023-24 legislative session.
The current Michigan K-12 social studies curriculum barely scratches the surface when it comes to AAPI history in schools. Exclusion from the curriculum means AAPI students don’t see themselves in the education they receive, contributing to the long-standing erasure of AAPI communities. Even worse, a lack of knowledge about these communities is a root cause of the hostility and violence that so many AAPI Michiganders endure.
Since 2020, we’ve seen a tragic resurgence of violence against AAPI people, and this is hardly the first time. After 9/11, for example, members of the South Asian community were targeted and discriminated against, with sometimes deadly results. According to the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Education, AAPI students across the country have reported increased instances of bullying and harassment since the start of the pandemic.
One way for us to keep youth safe from hate is to educate teachers and classmates about AAPI communities in an accurate and appropriate way.
AAPI history is American history. Ensuring that AAPI history is taught in public K-12 schools is the long-term solution to combating the lack of understanding around AAPI communities that leads to hate at the systemic level. An inclusive curriculum is a vital tool in preventing racially charged bullying, supporting student development, and addressing youth mental health issues that stem from feeling unseen or misunderstood while improving academic performance, attendance rates, and graduation rates. The AAPI Studies bill would require public schools to provide instruction that highlights:
History of the diaspora of the AAPI communities in Michigan and the Midwest
Movements and policies that brought the AAPI people to the US, including past policies and events that discriminated against, limited, or harmed AAPI communities
Contributions made by the AAPI community to government, the arts, humanities, sciences, and the economic, cultural, social, and political development of the US
Solidarity between AAPI and other historically marginalized communities, especially the civil rights movement.
State lawmakers should join the organizations, educators, students, and community members who are part of the TEACH MI HISTORY campaign in supporting this critical legislation. It will bring Michigan one step closer to an inclusive classroom and state for all.
Are you interested in joining this effort? Click the button below to sign up for more information on how you can help get this legislation passed