TRENTON – New Jersey public schools will have to incorporate the contributions, history and heritage of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the social studies curriculum starting next school year, under a new law signed Tuesday.

Gov. Phil Murphy also signed a bill into law establishing the Commission for Asian American Heritage within the Department of Education, to help districts adjust their K-12 classroom instruction.

“By teaching students about the history and heritage of our AAPI community, we can ensure that the diversity of our state is reflected in our curriculum and create a more tolerant and knowledgeable future for New Jersey,” Murphy said.

READ MORE: NJ poised to require Asian-American history be taught in schools

Sponsors of the new law in the Legislature said history books rarely emphasize the contributions of Asian-Americans, opening the door for racial biases that led to a surge of anti-Asian hate crimes during the pandemic, which started with a viral outbreak in China.

“All children deserve to know they belong. All children deserve to feel safe,” said Kani Ilangovan, founder of Make Us Visible NJ. “This law will help ensure Asian Americans are represented in our great American story.”

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Make Us Visible NJ said New Jersey becomes the second state with such a curriculum requirement after Illinois, which passed a similar law in 2021.

Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com.

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