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 SUMMARY 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. BACKGROUND 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 51226.3). 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 citizenship." 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. ANALYSIS 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 legislation. 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 costumes. 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. SUPPORT California Federation of Teachers Hmong Community Education Task Force Numerous individuals OPPOSITION Mong Federation, Inc.