Hmong history bill being revived in Wisconsin legislature

Monday, December 7, 2009

MADISON (WPR) Advocates of an embattled bill that would encourage public schools to teach the recent history of Hmong-Americans are trying once again.

Similar legislation has already failed three times because opponents said it would put undue burdens on schools. Wausau Senator Donna Seidel is a co-sponsor of the bill. She says it's now crafted so that it won’t mandate a specific amount of time for teaching Hmong history, and the materials can be shared around the state at little or no cost.

The bill received unanimous support at a recent Education Committee hearing at the Capitol. But West Bend Senator Glenn Grothman says he’ll sponsor the bill as long as the curriculum focuses on what he calls "the horrors of communism" during and after the Vietnam War. He believes some schools have a “leftist tilt”, and as a result, may not educate students about what happened in Southeast Asia.

After the war, the new communist government persecuted the Hmong for helping American forces. Thousands of Hmong fled to the U.S., including Peng Her who eventually settled in Wisconsin. Her says a lack of information about the Hmong still raises racial tensions. He hopes the bill will educate the larger community about the role of the Hmong in the Vietnam War and why they are in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin ranks third in the nation for its Hmong population. Supporters of the bill hope it will acknowledge Hmong contributions to the state. It will reach the assembly next month.


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