Illinois Governor signs law making Asian American history part of school curriculum

Chicago: Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday signed into law a new measure making Illinois the first state in the US to require Asian American history be taught in public schools.

Pritzker signed House Bill 376, the Teaching Equitable Asian American History or TEAACH Act, at Niles West High School in suburban Skokie.

The new law requires every public elementary and high school in the state to devote a unit of curriculum to the history of Asian Americans in the United States.

“We are setting a new standard for what it means to truly reckon with our history,” Pritzker said in a statement. “It’s a new standard that helps us understand one another, and, ultimately, to move ourselves closer to the nation of our ideals.”

The curriculum must include “the events of Asian American history, including the history of Asian Americans in Illinois and the Midwest, as well as the contributions of Asian Americans toward advancing civil rights from the 19th century onward,” the legislation reads.

“These events shall include the contributions made by individual Asian Americans in government and the arts, humanities, and sciences, as well as the contributions of Asian American communities to the economic, cultural, social, and political development of the United States,” per the new law. 

The law takes effect on Jan. 1 and the requirement begins with the start of the 2022-2023 school year.

The legislation, introduced in January by state Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, D-Glenview, passed the House in April and the Senate in May.

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