Schools Chancellor Banks Announces New Curriculum Centering AAPI Voices

  • Posted: Thu May 26, 2022 Updated: Tue May 31, 2022

NEW YORK – Schools Chancellor David C. Banks today announced a new curriculum designed to center the experiences and voices of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, a milestone step in our ongoing commitment to support AAPI students in our public schools.

This new set of curricular resources, Hidden Voices: Asian American and Pacific Islanders in the United States, is the third phase of the Hidden Voices Project, a companion to the NYCDOE’s Passport to Social Studies curriculum. The Hidden Voices project was initiated to help New York City’s students learn about and honor the innumerable people, often “hidden” from the traditional historical record, who have shaped and continue to shape our history and identity. Hidden Voices allows students to find their own voice as they become analysts of the past and to make connections between the past and the present.

“Our diversity is our strength, but refusing to teach our kids about our full past has left New York City students behind for far too long. That ends now,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “As home to over a million AAPI New Yorkers, it is only fitting that we are announcing a new AAPI curriculum in city public schools that truly reflects the full picture of AAPI history in the United States. Now, every New York City public school student will learn about the history, culture, and contributions of Asian American and Pacific Islanders in this nation and understand that everyone’s stories deserve to be heard. I want to thank Senator Liu and so many others who have fought for so long to make this curriculum a reality for all.” 

“I’m so proud to announce this exciting new curriculum. It is essential that our classrooms and the lessons we teach our young ones reflect the incredible diversity of the great city of New York,” said Schools Chancellor David C. Banks. “Thank you to our partners and stakeholders who have helped us make this a reality – we are grateful for your steadfast dedication to our students.”

The initial Asian American and Pacific Islanders in the United States guide will include profiles of individuals, “Portraits of an Era,” and pedagogical guidance to support teachers to integrate these resources within the themes and narratives taught in New York City.

With the guide as a foundation, the Department of Social Studies and other content teams from the office of Curriculum and Instruction will develop multidisciplinary lessons for each grade level to amplify student engagement and highlight AAPI history, culture, and contributions. To support instruction and complement the curriculum, the DOE will purchase and make available culturally diverse AAPI trade books. Once developed, the curriculum will be shared with all schools and supported through a comprehensive professional learning plan to bridge information gaps and ensure the effective integration and implementation of the curriculum. Professional learning will help teachers support students in the exploration of their identity, provide richer learning experiences, and deepen all students’ appreciation for the contributions of AAPI communities.

The Asian American and Pacific Islanders in the United States curriculum will be piloted through draft Social Studies and Literacy mini units for all grade bands beginning in fall 2022. A more robust multidisciplinary curriculum, which will incorporate teacher feedback from the pilot, will be delivered to schools in the spring of 2024. This is part of the previously announced Universal Mosaic Curriculum, which is providing culturally responsive titles and classroom support materials to schools, as well as professional development opportunities for teachers and staff.

This curriculum is being developed in partnership with leading scholars and stakeholders from a variety of institutions and organizations, including:

  • Asian American Education Project
  • The Coalition for Asian American Children and Families (CACF)
  • New-York Historical Society
  • Columbia University
  • Hunter College
  • Yuri Education Project

“New York City students deserve to see themselves and their cultures reflected in the curriculum from which they study and learn,” said Speaker Adrienne Adams. “Recognizing the vast contributions, histories, and experiences of diverse communities fosters understanding and improves learning opportunities for all students. As we continue to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, I applaud Chancellor Banks, the Department of Education, and partnering organizations for developing this curriculum and its accompanying books and resources.”

State Senator John Liu, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on NYC Education and sponsor of S6359A to teach Asian American history and civic impact statewide, stated, “The city’s commitment to an AAPI curriculum is a significant milestone that should serve as a model to be replicated throughout the state of New York. Kudos to the Chancellor for recognizing that the best way to stop the onslaught of anti-Asian hate that has continued unabated over the past several years is through education in our classrooms. This is an important first step, and I will continue working with all stakeholders to prioritize the passage of S6359A in Albany to teach Asian American history and civic impact statewide.”

 “After leading efforts on the federal level to promote the teaching of Asian Pacific American history in history and civics grant programs administered by the U.S. Department of Education, I am thrilled that my home city will be implementing a new AAPI curriculum in New York City public schools,” said U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens). “I thank and commend Mayor Adams and Chancellor Banks for taking this important step, and I am excited that this initiative is being announced during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. For generations, Asian Pacific American history has been poorly represented in our nation’s K-12 education system and social studies textbooks. Asian Pacific American history is American history, and when we fail to tell our children these stories, we lose a rich and nuanced perspective on our American story. Our school curriculums should be inclusive of all the diverse stories that our nation has to offer. Teaching future generations about our past, and that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders helped make America the greatest country on the planet, will help breakdown the stereotypes and negative perceptions that sadly still exist about Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. All communities of color must be better represented in the history lessons taught to our students so that we can learn from our past and create a more just society. I look forward to New York City’s new curriculum launching soon.”

As a proud product of New York City public schools from elementary school through college, I know that a culturally responsive curriculum has a massive impact on students,” said Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams. “I’m glad that curriculum is being updated and expanded to include and center more diverse voices, especially AAPI perspectives. Our young people deserve to feel safe, seen, heard, and represented in their classrooms, and this announcement is a great step in the right direction.”

“A better future for all our children depends on teaching the next generation the diverse history of our city and country. AAPI history not only teaches us about the past, but allows our students to reflect upon current events and how to move towards a more tolerant and inclusive future. Back in April, my office proudly partnered with CACF and Hunter College to co-host a student-led initiative, which prepared AAPI students to weave their culture into classroom lessons, and DOE's newly incorporated curriculum will allow our shared history to be more broadly taught,” said Comptroller Brad Lander.

“Education is a pillar of our democracy that empowers our students to better know and understand themselves and the world we share,” said Congressman Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D (NY-16). “I fully support the New York City Department of Education’s introduction of AAPI curriculum in our schools. In order to become a better nation with well-informed people, we must tell the truth and teach our youth the truth. The AAPI community is integral in our nation’s history and has been instrumental in society globally. I look forward to seeing this curriculum roll out and seeing the impact it will have on students across New York City.” 

“New York City is the most diverse metropolis in the nation and it is absolutely fitting to highlight the immense contributions of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community that make up our vibrant culture and identity. We celebrate our differences in New York, including all the people that have contributed greatly to our American experience, culture and society. Centering the experiences and voices of the AAPI community through these educational programs and partnerships is essential in establishing a well-balanced, equitable and more just society,” said Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke. “Americans have multicultural roots, and that must be celebrated. I’m grateful Chancellor David C. Banks is doing just that. This new phase of the Hidden Voices Project will have a profound impact on both our AAPI students and their classmates, and it serves as a particularly welcome and refreshing announcement during this AAPI Heritage Month. Our city is truly blessed and privileged to have this educational program,” Clarke added.

“Our curriculum should be reflective of the diversity of our students and today`s announcement brings us one step closer to achieving just that,” said Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson. “It is essential for our youth to read and learn about their culture and history at an early age to gain a deeper understanding of their identity, and the contributions of their ancestors to our society. For a lot of our students, the classroom is the first time they get an in-depth understanding of history and we owe it to them to have their identity represented.   I want to commend Chancellor Banks and Mayor Adams for their commitment to centering AAPI New Yorkers and other historically marginalized communities` experiences in the classroom.”

“The Hidden Voices curriculum is a strong step forward in highlighting the profound contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, reflecting the diversity of AAPI experiences that have shaped our city,” said Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine. “As Asian New Yorkers face an onslaught of hate and violence, it's especially important that school curricula center AAPI voices and combat racist and xenophobic stereotypes from an early age, and I look forward to continuing to work with DOE to expand this vital curriculum.”

“I’m proud to say that New York City is on the right side of history as parts of our country keep school children away from multicultural and historically accurate social studies that has shaped this country and continues to impact our society,” said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. “As one of the most diverse places in the world, New York City has a responsibility to expose young people to as many cultures and their histories as possible to raise cultural competencies that can in turn reduce the hate, violence, and vitriol we still see in our communities. Thank you, Chancellor Banks for championing the importance of supporting our APPI students in public schools.”

“AAPI history is Queens history, New York City history and American history. Establishing curriculum centering the experiences of our diverse AAPI communities is critical in our mission to ensure our children receive the most well-rounded and informed education possible,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “I applaud the DOE and all our community partners for this vitally important work, which will pay dividends for generations of children to come.”

“Our Asian American and Pacific Islander neighbors in southern Brooklyn and throughout New York City make incredible contributions to our community,” said Senator Andrew Gounardes. “Ensuring that all students can see themselves and their cultures represented in their studies is a clear and critical step towards richer learning experiences for every member of a New York City classroom, regardless of their background. I look forward to supporting Chancellor Banks and our community's schools as they implement this new curriculum.”

“It is important to include the experiences and contributions of the AAPI community in our school curriculum. By highlighting AAPI culture and historic impact, we will not only be offering a more inclusive educational experience, but also a more accurate one. I recognize the importance because I taught social students in the NYC high schools. I thank School Chancellor Banks for making sure these voices are no longer hidden,” said Senator Toby Ann Stavisky.

“I am thrilled to hear that the city is at last developing a curriculum centering AAPI voices,” said Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou. “The current violence that our community faces is not just a symptom of COVID-induced racism, it is the latest chapter in a long history of exclusion and hate. Making sure that our children see their faces reflected in their textbooks and that all New Yorkers learn about the rich history and important contributions of Asian Americans is an important step towards creating a more equitable New York.”

“New York City is where the entire world comes together, and our students need to be fully versed in the histories and contributions of everyone who makes up our Gorgeous Mosaic. The new AAPI curriculum will cut through misconceptions and misinformation about Asian-American history and shine a light on this community's American story. With the development of this inclusive, factual curriculum, Mayor Eric Adams demonstrates his outstanding commitment to the comprehensive education of each and every student. As the first South Asian-American woman elected to New York State Office, I will proudly offer any help or resources needed to ensure the accuracy and success of this historic initiative,” said Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar.

“In a city as richly diverse as New York, it's crucial that our curriculum reflects all our students' cultural heritage and history. AAPI students deserve to have a curriculum that reflects their experiences and voices. Thank you to the activists, partners, and stakeholders who made this possible!” said NYC Council Education Committee Chairwoman Rita Joseph.

“A quality education should inspire all our children, and every kid deserves an education that is meaningful to who they are,” said Council Member Alexa Avilés. “As the Council Member representing 8th Avenue, the heart of Brooklyn's Chinese community, this new curriculum is intended to bring Asian American and Pacific Islander voices front in center. As our city confronts rising hate crimes directed at Asian Americans, culturally responsive education is important not only to our Asian American students, but to build shared cultural understanding so that all students can appreciate the vibrancy and diversity of our city. For more than a century, Asian Americans have been part of the fabric of New York City in every way, lived here and raised families here—though we haven’t always been welcomed or celebrated. I thank Chancellor Banks for his commitment to telling our stories in our schools within this new curriculum. South Asian public school children, like my own, will finally be able to see themselves reflected in their textbooks.”

“As the proud representative of one of the largest Asian communities in New York City, I am thrilled about this curriculum supplement that will center the voices and experiences of the AAPI community. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are a vital part of the American cultural mosaic. Their stories and contributions must be taught in our city's classrooms. In one of the most diverse cities in the world, the inclusion of this curriculum is not only proof of our city’s commitment to the representation of all New Yorkers, but it will engage and inspire young leaders for years to come,” said Council Member Justin Brannan.

“For decades, the accomplishments and contributions of the AAPI community have been little more than a footnote in our history books despite the enormous impact we have made. But with the Department of Education’s new curriculum, Asian-American history will finally be taught in its full extent in our City’s schools,” said Council Member Shahana Hanif. “The Hidden Voices projects will help tell untold stories key to American history that have been excluded from our educational curriculum for far too long. The Department of Education’s multidisciplinary approach will help students better understand the full scope of the complex and multicultural mosaic that is our City and our nation’s past.”

“The expansion of the Hidden Voices Project with the addition of Asian American and Pacific Islander curriculum is a great step forward in ensuring that the New York City public school system is truly representative of its students. In a period of increased violence and hate crimes against Asian Americans, cultural exposure can be a powerful tool in breaking away prejudices and biases at a young age and help reinforce New York City’s status as a cultural melting pot and capital of the world.  This is an excellent initiative and I applaud the Mayor Adams and Chancellor Banks,” said Council Member Ari Kagan.

“For more than a century, Asian Americans have been part of the fabric of New York City in every way, lived here and raised families here—though we haven’t always been welcomed or celebrated. I thank Chancellor Banks for his commitment to telling our stories in our schools within this new curriculum. South Asian public school children, like my own, will finally be able to see themselves reflected in their textbooks,” said Council Member Shekar Krishnan.

“Last week my City Council colleagues and I introduced a resolution calling on New York State to recognize AAPI history through the curriculum of our schools, and today Mayor Adams and Chancellor Banks showed they are listening,” said Council Member Linda Lee, Vice-Chair of the New York City Council Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus and first Korean-American alongside Julie Won. “New York City is home to over 1.2 million AAPI New Yorkers, and we have made, and will continue to make invaluable contributions to our city. Having our history included in the Department of Education’s curriculum through Hidden Voices will educate others about our culture and instill pride in AAPI children learning across the city. AAPI history is American history, and I am immensely proud that our heritage will be recognized in our schools thanks to Chancellor Banks’ leadership.”

“Since taking office I have been a vocal supporter of teaching AAPI history in our schools, not only in an effort to stem the recent rise in anti-Asian hate crimes by promoting an understanding of the rich history of the AAPI community in this country, but also to instill a sense of pride among our children in the Asian American community,” said Council Member Sandra Ung. “Last week, I introduced a resolution in the City Council with my colleague Linda Lee to support legislation at the state level to include AAPI history in the curriculum in schools across New York State. I am pleased to learn that the Department of Education is leading the way in this effort, and has pledged to begin teaching AAPI history and culture and sharing our stories in the city’s classrooms.”

“AAPI Americans have been for far too long invisibilized and stripped of our individual cultures and languages, and treated as strangers in our own homes. We must address the ignorance that has been deliberately fostered in our country to facilitate the disempowerment of AAPI Americans through education to show all New Yorkers that we are a part of this city and have been for much of its history.” said Council Member Julie Won. “I applaud the Department of Education for creating The Asian American and Pacific Islanders in the United States curriculum and I look forward to the growth of this program and permanent implementation in our city.”

“I’m honored to work with the stellar DOE team and an amazing team of scholars on this pioneering project to highlight AAPI history, culture and contributions,” said Vivian Louie, director of the Asian American Studies Program & Center and professor of Urban Policy & Planning at Hunter College, and a lead scholar on the Hidden Voices: AAPI project. “This is a history that we should all know, along with the experiences of so many, whose histories have rarely been told. This is the story of America.”

“Like President John F. Kennedy once wrote, 'History…is always alive.' However, we need to teach Asian American and Pacific Islander history in class and talk about it, otherwise, it will become just another book collecting dust on a shelf somewhere,” said Mikayla Lin, Student, Stuyvesant High School.

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