BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                         SENATE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION
                            John Vasconcellos, Chair
                           2003-2004 Regular Session

          BILL NO:       AB 78 
          AUTHOR:        Reyes
          AMENDED:       March 17, 2003
          FISCAL COMM:   No             HEARING DATE:  June 11, 2003
          URGENCY:       No             CONSULTANT:Marlene L. Garcia

           SUBJECT  :  Education Curriculum

          This bill encourages that social studies instruction  
          include instruction on the Vietnam War, including the  
          "Secret War" in Laos and the role of the Hmong and other  
          Southeast Asians in that war, as specified.   


          Current law requires adopted courses of study for grades 7  
          to 12 to include social studies, drawing upon the  
          disciplines of anthropology, economics, geography, history,  
          political science, psychology, and sociology (EC 51220  
          (b)).  The law also specifies that instruction provide a  
          foundation for understanding the history, resources,  
          development and government of California and the United  
          States of America among other specified areas.  Current law  
          also allows special curricula in social studies that deal  
          with civil rights, human rights violations, genocide,  
          slavery, the Holocaust and the Great Irish Famine (EC  

          In 1988, the State Board of Education approved  
          History/Social Science Content Standards for grades K-12,  
          calling for instruction to "emphasize historical narrative,  
          highlight the roles of significant individuals throughout  
          history and convey the rights and obligations of  

          Current law also requires that every pupil graduating from  
          high school must complete three courses in social studies,  
          including United States history and geography; a  


                                                                 AB 78
                                                                Page 2

          one-semester course in American Government and civics, and  
          a one-semester course in economics.

          During the Vietnam War, the United States recruited  
          Southeast Asians and trained them as guerrilla fighters and  
          an intelligence-gathering force which operated against the  
          Viet Cong.  The force became known as the CIA's "Secret  
          Army" in Laos.  In this role, these individuals sabotaged  
          war supplies moving along the Ho Chi Minh tail and rescued  
          American pilots who had been downed over Laos.  The  
          guerrilla fighters suffered significant casualties in  
          performing these duties. 

          Following the Vietnam War, scores of Southeast Asians fled  
          their homeland and immigrated to the United States and  
          other countries to seek refuge. 


           This bill  :

          1)   Encourages that instruction in social sciences, as  
               required pursuant to EC 51220, include instruction on  
               the Vietnam War, including the "Secret War" in Laos  
               and the role of the Hmong and other Southeast Asians  
               in that war.  

          2)   Encourages the inclusion of personal oral or video  
               testimony of Hmong and Southeast Asians who were  
               directly involved in the Vietnam War by providing  
               intelligence to the United States.  The personal  
               testimony shall exemplify the personal sacrifice and  
               courage of these individuals who were called upon to  
               participate in the war, their life after the war and  
               the subsequent immigration of the Hmong and other  
               Southeast Asians to the United States. 
          3)   Specifies that no new duties or programs are imposed  
               on local school districts as a result of this  

           STAFF COMMENTS  

           1)   Need for the bill.  The general public knows very  
               little about the "Secret War" in Laos and the role  
               Southeast Asians played in assisting the U.S. military  


                                                                 AB 78
                                                                Page 3

               in the Vietnam War.  This history is virtually absent  
               from K-12 classroom instruction and school text books.  

          According to the author, providing social studies  
               instruction on the role and participation of Southeast  
               Asians as U.S. allies in the Vietnam War will increase  
               awareness of the great sacrifice made in participating  
               in this effort, enhance the understanding of the  
               Southeast Asian community, lessen discrimination, and  
               highlight the contributions of this community to  
               United States history.

          This bill would help Southeast Asian students gain a sense  
               of pride in their heritage as they learn that their  
               parents and elders were heroes among American veterans  
               in the U.S. Secret War.  

           2)   Does the term Hmong appropriately represent the entire  
               community?   The official federal government  
               designation of Hmong is spelled H-M-O-N-G and is  
               reported as such on the U.S. Census reports and other  
               official documents.  This is what is referenced in the  
               bill.  However, there is significant opposition to  
               limiting the reference in the bill to just Hmong.   
               There are members of this community who spell their  
               name M-O-N-G and argue that they are culturally and  
               linguistically different than the 
               H-M-O-N-G group. They want all reference to the Hmong  
               community in the bill to be Hmong/Mong to reflect  
               these differences.  The sponsors of the bill, who use  
               Hmong, do not want to reference the two spellings for  
               fear of creating a division within their community.  

               There also are numerous other subgroup classifications  
               designated by color (e.g. Black Mong, Striped Hmong,  
               etc.).  The colors refer to the colors of their  

               Staff recommends amending the bill to be inclusive of  
               the entire Southeast Asian community and drop  
               reference to Hmong as a subgroup in the bill.

           3)   Related legislation  .  AB 2709 (Wyland) was signed into  
               law last year encouraging that instruction in the  
               social sciences include instruction about World War II  


                                                                 AB 78
                                                                Page 4

               and the American role in that war.   


          California Federation of Teachers
          Hmong Community Education Task Force
          Numerous individuals


          Mong Federation, Inc.