Saturday, June 7, 2008

Italian American Education Bill

[From the Sacramento Italian Cultural Society March/April 2008 newsletter]:

Did you know Italian Americans are not mentioned in the history books? That’s right; the history books used in California schools from the kindergarten through the University level do not mention us. Not even a footnote. Yet, the other large European groups are covered and many of the smaller non-European groups receive extensive coverage. This is not fair to Italian Americans. Italian Americans have earned a place in American history. Italian Americans are the fourth largest European group in America and the sixth largest ethnic group - some 25 million strong, yet the other three larger European groups – the Germans, Irish and English are included in the history lesson given to California students. Italian Americans are not – not even a footnote that they were ever here or played a role in the development of America. Many other groups from Asia, Africa and Mexico, as well as Native Americans receive extensive coverage in the instruction received by California students.

It’s time to end the historic exclusion of Italian Americans from the school curriculum and from the educational experience of California students. A recent study of California textbooks by a team of University scholars revealed that of all the major cultural groups in America, only the Italians were left out of the textbooks used in California schools. This is a shame! And it is not an accurate portrayal of history. The role and contributions of Italian Americans to the creation and development of America have been enormous. Yet, the persistent discrimination Italian Americans suffer continues in the official history of the country. This represents second class citizenship and treatment from our educational institutions. In order to correct this injustice, a new legislative initiative – Assembly Bill 1863 - has been introduced in California by Assembly
Member Anthony Portantino of Pasadena. This modest Bill would provide that the role and contributions of Italian Americans be added to those of the groups already included in the school curriculum. For Italian Americans, this is a matter of social justice – a matter of equal treatment and equal history.

The Portantino Bill is co-authored by several other Italian American Legislators including George Plescia of San Diego, Kathleen Galgiani of Stockton and Don Perata of Oakland. The Bill is sponsored by the California Italian American Task Force, a State Commission created by the Legislature and appointed by the Governor to address the concerns of Italian Americans in California. The Italian American Education Bill is the number one educational policy initiative of the Task Force. Italian Americans are not well served by the current school curriculum which excludes them from American history. This legislative initiative is our hope to end the generations of exclusion and provide society with more accurate images of who and what we are and how Italian Americans contributed to American society. For further information about the Bill or the Task Force contact by e-mail Bill Cerruti at: or tel: 916/482-5900.


"Italians not in the history books." This isn't what I know to be sane. Some could argue that this is the result of "ethnic interest group lobbying" or the new anti-Europeanism, except that other European heritage groups are not included in this situation. Lets face it, we've been in the process of being pushed out by sheer numbers for about fifty years now. Maybe longer.

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