CHICAGO - Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the Teaching Equitable Asian American History Act into law Friday, making Illinois the first state in the country to require a unit of Asian American history to be taught in public schools.
The legislation was created to ensure every high school graduate in Illinois will learn about Asian American history, officials said.
The signing of the law comes as the country has seen a recent rise in acts of violence against the Asian American community.
The Governor's Office said by teaching students about the culture and contributions of the Asian American community, it will help combat false stereotypes.
"Today, 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," said Pritzker. "We are setting a new standard for what it means to truly reckon with our history."
Beginning with the 2022-2023 school year, public elementary schools and high schools will be required to include a unit of instruction studying the events of Asian American History.
This instruction will also include the history of Asian Americans in Illinois and the Midwest.
"This TEAACH legislation will not only better educate all of our young minds about the contributions of Asian Americans and their communities and culture, but it will give our Asian Americans students a chance to learn about the experiences and stories they have a personal connection with," said House Peaker Emanuel "Chris" Welch.
The new curriculum will include the following:
- The contributions of Asian Americans toward advancing civil rights from the 19th century onward;
- The contributions made by individual Asian Americans in government, arts, humanities and sciences
- The contributions of Asian American communities to the economic, cultural, social and political development of the United States.
The state will not require or designate a specific curriculum for school districts.
The Illinois State of Education will make materials available to all school boards, however, each school board will determine the minimum amount of instructional time that qualifies as a unit, the law states.
"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," said Illinois Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz.
HB 376 will take effect on Jan. 1, 2022.