Rochester-area State Senator pushing for Asian American Pacific Islander education |

Rochester-area State Senator pushing for Asian American Pacific Islander education

Jennifer Ly
Created: May 19, 2021 07:42 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Across the nation, there has been an alarming number of attacks on Asian Americans.

Tuesday, the House voted to pass the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which combats the hate, violence and discrimination against the Asian American Pacific Islander community in the U.S.

There is also a bill in the New York State Senate aimed at educating the public about the history and impact of Asian Americans. That legislation is co-sponsored by a local state senator, Senator Jeremy Cooney (D, NY-56). The bill would require public elementary and high schools to include Asian American history and civic impact in the curriculum.

“This legislation is personally very meaningful to me. I believe that representation in government should matter,” Cooney said. 

As the first Asian American elected to state office in Upstate New York, Senator Cooney wants to spread awareness about Asian Americans.

“It's really important to me to support legislation, like my colleague Senator Liu down in Queens, to show upstate families, upstate Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders that their role in history is not going to be ignored. That future generations of students are going to know that Asian Americans played a critical role in the development of our nation,” he said. 

Senator Cooney believes that by passing this legislation, it can make a difference in the rise of unprovoked attacks on Asian Americans across the country.

“We know that the hate is based on ignorance,” he said. 

Within the past year, hate crimes against the Asian community have skyrocketed sparking outrage. Advocacy groups, such as the Asian/Pacific Islander/American Association of Greater Rochester APAA) said they are saddened by all the hate but hopeful about the legislation.

“We're absolutely overjoyed about the possibility of this learning opportunity for all Americans to learn the history of AAPI our heritage and our contributions in building our wonderful country,” said Mimi W. Lee, President of APAA. 

“I think it is long overdue because many of us did not have this opportunity to learn about our heritage in grammar school until college when we had an opportunity to take it as an elective,” Lee said. 

News10NBC reached out to the New York State Education Department, and the department does not comment on pending legislation.

Last week the Board of Regents did act on measures to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in schools across the state. If passed, the newly added curriculum would take effect on the first July after the bill becomes a law.

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