Illinois Becomes First State To Require Asian American History To Be Taught In Schools
Illinois has just become the first US state to introduce a requirement for Asian American History to be taught in schools.
Under this new legislation, signed by Governor JB Pritzker on Friday, July 9, schools must now teach ‘the contributions of Asian American communities to the economic, cultural, social, and political development of the United States’.
The curriculum must also cover advancements made by Asian Americans in the field of civil rights from the 19th century onwards, as well as ‘contributions made by individual Asian Americans in government, arts, humanities, and sciences’.
The effort to pass this legislation was led by Chicago-based non-profit group Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Chicago, with the new laws scheduled to be implemented from January 1 onwards.
In a statement about the Teaching Equitable Asian American History Act, Gov. Pritzker declared ‘we are reaffirming our commitment to creating more inclusive school environments’:
We’re making Illinois the first state in the nation to require that Asian American history will be taught in public schools, including a unit about the Asian American experience.
We are setting a new standard for what it means to truly reckon with our history. It’s a new standard that helps us understand one another, and, ultimately, to move ourselves closer to the nation of our ideals.
State Representative Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz said:
Asian American history is American history. Yet we are often invisible. The TEAACH Act will ensure that the next generation of Asian American students won’t need to attend law school to learn about their heritage. Empathy comes from understanding.
We cannot do better unless we know better. A lack of knowledge is the root cause of discrimination and the best weapon against ignorance is education.
Although the legislation does specify topics that must be addressed, a specific curriculum for school districts has not been designated.
The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has the authority to ensure instructional materials are available to all school boards, but it will be up to each school board to determine the minimum amount of teaching time that qualifies as a unit of instruction as outlined in the bill.
The act comes following concerns about a rise in Asian American hate crimes over the course of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact Stop Hate UK by visiting their website www.stophateuk.org/talk
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