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Bill Proposing More AAPI History In Textbooks Faces Unexpected Opposition

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) - As hate crimes against Asian Americans rise, there's a California bill calling for more Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) history in textbooks. Only, in a strange twist, the AAPI Legislative Caucus is opposing the bill.

"Exactly by what mechanism would it lead to any substantive change?" asked Sen. Richard Pan (D-6th District).

Pan cast a "no" vote on a bill to encourage instruction of AAPI contributions in California textbooks.

"Unfortunately, I'm not able to support the bill today," he said.

Pan argued that the language would not make real change.

senator nielsen
CA Sen. nielsen

In a recent hearing, the author of the bill, Assemblymember Jim Nielsen (R-4th District), asked Pan to amend the bill to include tougher language.

"Senator Pan, would you propose an amendment, which I would accept, mandating it?" he asked.

California Sen. Richard Pan
CA Sen. Richard Pan (credit: Senate.CA.Gov)

Pan said no.

"I wish that the sponsors of the bill had gone and approached our caucus," he said.

Pan is the chair of the AAPI Legislative Caucus.

Nielsen is a Republican.

"Frankly, I think it's partisan politics," said a supporter of the bill.

The bill's supporters rallied outside the capitol seeking an end to the stalemate.

Mary Nicely, California's deputy superintendent of public instruction, is among the supporters of the proposed new guidance.

"We work the closest with the schools and with our county offices to roll out lesson plans and give guidance on what they should be learning," she said.

"Asian American Pacific Islander hate has since the pandemic began," said a supporter of the bill.

Video shows an Asian American man being shoved to the ground.

More education is one tool advocates say could curb a recent spike in violence against the Asian-American community. Reported hate crimes against Asian Americans increased more than 300% in 2021 across the country.

"This bill is not ready...we need to do more work," Pan said.

In California, getting more AAPI history in textbooks has become more of a lesson on political gridlock

The bill is sitting in the Assembly Education Committee, and it will die there if it's not passed to the floor by the end of next week.

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