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New Wisconsin law requires teaching of Hmong, Asian-American history in schools

Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers signed into law Thursday a bipartisan bill requiring the state's schools to teach Hmong-American and Asian-American history.

Gov. Tony Evers on Thursday signed into law a bipartisan bill requiring Wisconsin schools to teach Asian American and Hmong American histories.

Evers signed the bill at an elementary school in Wausau, which is home to about 4,700 Hmong. That is 12% of the city's residents, making Wausau the highest per-capita Hmong population in the state and country, according to the Hmong American Center.


"The Hmong and Asian American communities are a critical part of our state’s history, culture, economy, and our future," Evers said in a statement. "It’s important that we celebrate our shared histories and honor the people who help make Wisconsin the state it is today."

Persecuted as an ethnic minority in their ancestral lands in China, the Hmong fled first to the mountains of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. There, tens of thousands fought for the United States in the Vietnam War. When Communist regimes swept the region, they escaped to refugee camps in neighboring Thailand and, starting in the mid-1970s, resettled largely in California farm country, Minneapolis and central Wisconsin.

Wisconsin's Hmong population of 50,000 places it third highest behind California at 80,000 and Minnesota at 70,000, according to the Hmong American Center.

Current Wisconsin law requires K-12 schools to teach Black, Hispanic and Native American histories. The new law adds Hmong and Asian American histories to this required curriculum. The goal is to promote greater awareness and understanding of Hmong and Asian American histories, cultures and traditions.

The measure had broad support in the Legislature, including from the state education department, the state teachers' union and the Wisconsin Council of Churches. There were no registered opponents.

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