On July 9, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the TEAACH Act (Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History). With this, Illinois has now become the first state to require a unit of Asian American history to be taught in high schools and public elementary schools – including the history of Asian Americans in Illinois and the Midwest.
After a spike in hate crimes and attacks on Asian Americans across the country after the pandemic, organizers and advocacy groups began developing this legislation.
Indian American state Sen. Ram Villivalam and state Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz introduced the historic bill, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Chicago and a coalition of over 35 organizations championed it, the press release stated.
“This historic measure makes Illinois the first state in the nation to set a standard for culturally competent Asian American history curriculum. This milestone offers students of all backgrounds cross-cultural education, and ensures that the stories and experiences of our communities are accurately reflected in the classroom,” Villivalam, the first Indian and Asian American in the Illinois Senate, was quoted as saying. “As the son of Indian immigrants and representative of one of the most diverse districts in the state, I am proud to have sponsored this legislation.”
“Asian Americans – a five-episode documentary series and corresponding K-12 school curriculum released in Spring 2020 – complements the bill.
TEAACH Act was appreciated by Pritzker as a way to “address harmful stereotypes.”
“Students from all backgrounds need to learn about the history of people from different cultures and ethnicities to understand the systemic inequities that exist today,” Villivalam had said in an earlier statement.
The bill is all set to go into effect during the 2022-2023 school year.
“Today, we are reaffirming our commitment to creating more inclusive classrooms by making Illinois the first state in the nation to require Asian American history be taught in public schools,” the governor wrote on Twitter.
As per the bill, the curriculum should include:
- 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 U.S.
The Illinois State Board of Education has the authorization to make instructional materials available to every school board. On the other hand, every school has to determine the minimum amount of instructional time considered a unit of instruction as per the bill.