Asian Lunar New Year Gains New Significance in California
New State Textbooks Encourage Closer Examination of Celebrated Holiday
SACRAMENTO: The California State Board of Education has taken action to approve a change to history textbooks that will include the importance of the Asian Lunar New Year and its significance to the Asian community in California. The change is similar to legislation introduced by Senator Bob Huff (R-San Dimas) that stalled in the Legislature. SB 616 sought to create a new and special day of significance for the celebration of the Asian Lunar New Year in California and encouraged teachers to participate.
As teachers present lessons in understanding diverse populations that make up our local communities, they will now dedicate a portion of that discussion to the Lunar New Year. Senator Huff sent a letter requesting the Lunar New Year be included in the new curriculum framework. He also testified in support of the proposed changes before the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) with the California Department of Education (CDE) earlier this year, in which he pointed out the importance of the Asian Lunar New Year in his own Senate District.
“I represent the largest group of API residents of any Senate district. Dedicating a portion of our content standards to the Asian Lunar New Year will go a long way toward building a sense of inclusion and community in the fastest growing segment of our population,” Senator Huff testified earlier this year. “This is the biggest holiday in the Eastern Hemisphere. This celebration focuses on love, family and renewal. It represents a new year where people can start with a clean slate. Some of our students have a difficult time acclimating into their schools. This new school curriculum will encourage understanding while bringing classmates together in fun activities.”
Senator Huff pointed out in his testimony before the IQC that the Lunar New Year is celebrated in many Asian communities around the world, including the United States and especially California. In our state it is celebrated by an estimated 2.5 million Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese residents as part of their deeply held cultural family traditions.
The history social science framework in grades K-3 will now compare how the Lunar New Year is celebrated in local communities and how it connects people today to traditions from the past.
Senator Huff’s actions were proudly supported by the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association (APAPA), Asian American Equalization Association, Joint Chinese University Alumni Association of Southern California, (JCUAA), The Orange Club, Chinese American Citizens Alliance Greater San Gabriel Valley Lodge, Silicon Valley Chinese Association and Asians for Lunar New Year.
“While a committee in the Legislature played politics with my bill by holding it, I’m pleased the Department of Education was responsive to the significance of Lunar New Year and appropriately adopted it into our textbooks.” said Senator Huff.