NJ Law S4021
We believe our most powerful tool against racism, bias, and exclusion is education.
New Jersey’s pathbreaking law S4021 “requires school districts to provide instruction on the history and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders as part of implementation of New Jersey Student Learning Standards in Social Studies” starting in the 2022–2023 school year—the second state in the nation to do so.
The Pathbreaking Law
In response to the surge of anti-Asian hate spurred during the pandemic, a grassroots coalition of parents, students, and educators successfully advocated for a historic bill mandating that all New Jersey K-12 public schools integrate Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) history and contributions into their curriculum. While the NJ AAPI Curriculum Bill passed with near unanimous bipartisan support in early 2022, implementation of law S4021 is now the responsibility of each of New Jersey’s 600 school districts. Like other unfunded curriculum mandates (e.g. Holocaust studies), this law and similar efforts across the country won’t succeed without the partnership of educators, civic leaders, and the philanthropic community.
Ensuring Generational Change
The rest of the nation is looking to New Jersey as a leader to realize the promise of education to further inclusion and belonging. Now is the moment to bring resources and support educators who will ensure that AAPI children and their peers grow up learning that Asian Americans have made valuable contributions to America.
The Teach Asian American Stories initiative, led by AAPI Montclair—a 501(c)3 nonprofit working to further rights, visibility and representation for the AAPI community throughout New Jersey—along with its partners, will connect educators with the professional development opportunities they need to begin integrating AAPI history and contributions into their practice. Through partnerships with the Immigrant History Initiative, South Asian American Digital Archive, Asian American Education Project, and other leaders in this space, we will help teachers not only access resources, but develop individualized plans to use them in their classrooms.
In school, students take note of whose stories and histories are taught and valued in the curriculum and whose are not. That’s why it’s so critical that we educate all kids about AAPI stories and history alongside the stories and history of other communities that have all too often been overlooked, marginalized or even worse been subjected to mistreatment and injustice during the course of our collective history as a nation.
— Gurbir Grewal, NJ Attorney General