Making History In Wisconsin: Including Asian American History in Schools | Haiyun Lu | 4 Min Read

June 6, 2023

On May 25, 2023, Wisconsin made history by holding the first public hearing for a bill that aims to teach Hmong American and Asian American history in schools.  People from different races and backgrounds gathered in State House Room 417N for a public hearing, traveling from Eau Claire to Milwaukee, Green Bay to La Crosse. It was a significant moment as individuals of all ages, from young children to elders, made their debut in a public hearing. For Asian Americans, it required immense courage and personal growth to overcome cultural barriers and advocate for their beliefs.

In 1988, Wisconsin passed ACT 31, which mandated schools to teach about human relations, including American Indians, Black Americans, and Hispanics. However, Asian American history was initially excluded due to tensions over hunting rights between White Americans and Hmong Americans. Lawmakers promised to amend ACT 31 and include Asian American history within two or three years.

In 2021, a milestone was finally reached: The bill gained bipartisan support for the first time even though the effort to turn the tide was meager.  On May 25, 2023, Assembly Bill 232 finally got its first public hearing more than three decades later.

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Haiyun Lu

Haiyun Lu, a Chinese language teacher at the University School of Milwaukee (WI), is also a writer, blogger, trainer, curriculum designer, meditator, and Co-Founder at Ignite Chinese.