Jersey City adopts resolution in support of state legislation bills on AAPI studies


| Photo by Thoroughly Reviewed via Flickr/Creative Commons 2.0

JERSEY CITY, NJ — The Jersey City municipal council has unanimously adopted a resolution supporting state legislation Senate Bill No. 4021/Assembly Bill No. 6100 at its meeting on Nov. 29. The bills require the inclusion of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) history and contributions in New Jersey’s K-12 curriculum.

The council resolution cites the provisions of the legislation, including the steep rise of hate incidents against the AAPI community. Education and inclusion of AAPI studies in the classrooms would cultivate more inclusive communities and create a more just society.

The Assembly Education Committee still must hear Assembly Bill No. 6100, and advocates are urging Assembly Education Chair Pamela Lampitt (D-6) to add the bill to the Committee’s agenda. The Assembly Education Committee has scheduled the final meeting for the 2020-2021 legislative session on Dec. 9.

Rolando Lavarro
Rolando Lavarro | PDM File Photo

“We are living in more polarized times. The violence against AAPI communities has given rise to the urgent need for education to combat systemic racism,” said Council At-Large Rolando R. Lavarro, Jr. sponsor of the resolution. “Our education system not only should reflect the diversity of our state but should ensure that future generations grow up with knowledge and values of inclusivity and social justice by learning the history and contributions of AAPI communities.”

Ward C Councilman Rich Boggiano, co-sponsor of the resolution, said: “Jersey City has always been an immigrant city, and we are lucky to have such an amazing Asian American community. This is a wonderful opportunity to make our history curriculum reflect the diversity of our city.”

In addition, Ward E Councilman James Solomon, also a co-sponsor of the resolution, said that “It is extraordinarily important that Asian American and Pacific Islander history and contributions are included in our public-school curriculum.”

“Such education will foster a more equal society and address rising hate. I am grateful that Jersey City’s Council added its voice to the Make Us Visible NJ Coalition calling on our state legislators to pass the bill to make this much needed addition to our public school’s curriculum,” added Solomon.

Following the City Council vote, on Thursday, Dec. 2, Councilman Lavarro joined Make Us Visible NJ and nearly a dozen activists urging legislators to pass S4021 and A6100. In advance of a vote by the New Jersey State Senate, Make Us Visible, NJ advocates, students, and residents gathered in a committee room at the Statehouse shared their personal experiences of racism and the importance of education in combating bigotry. With more than 37 sponsors in the state Senate, S4021 passed overwhelmingly with a vote of 38-2.

Make Us Visible NJ is a coalition of students, parents, educators, legislators, professionals, and New Jersey community members advocating for a thoughtful and comprehensive inclusion of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) studies into the K-12 curriculum for New Jersey public schools. The group led the campaign to have the bill passed in Trenton.

“We are deeply grateful to Councilman Lavarro for introducing this resolution and to the Jersey City Council for their unanimous support for the AAPI Curriculum Bill S4021/A6100,” said Dr. Kani Ilangoven of Make Us Visible NJ. “We believe that it is vital to focus on prevention and education by emphasizing what an integral part of this country Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have been and continue to be. Changing our public-school curricula is an important place to start that work. We must correct the absence of Asian American and Pacific Islanders in our narrated history in schools.”

The Jersey City Asian American Pacific Islander Coalition AAPI (JCAAPI) is a grassroots coalition of Jersey City AAPI individuals, organizations, and allies committed to protecting APPI communities against hate and prejudice, promoting a culture of civic participation within AAPI communities, and creating a more just and inclusive society.

“The inclusion of AAPI studies in our public schools’ curriculum is long overdue. We are glad that Jersey City and Hudson County leadership recognize the need to fill this void in the interest of inclusivity and creating an equitable and just society,” said Jennie Jonson, JCAAPI Education Committee Member.

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