Pritzker signs law requiring Asian American history be taught in Illinois schools

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SKOKIE, Ill. (WTVO) — Gov. JB Pritzker signed a law making Illinois the first in the state to require Asian American history to be taught in public schools.

“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,” he added.

House Bill 376, the TEAACH act (Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History) was made partially in response to a reported rise in violence and bigotry against the Asian American community nationwide.

Beginning with the 2022-23 school year, every public school will learn about Japanese internment camps, the Chinese Exclusion Act, 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 and the economic, cultural, social and political development of the United 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 State Representative Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz (D-Glenview). “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.”

The law is part of Gov. Pritzker’s initiatives to create “more inclusive school environments and curriculums,” including requiring schools to teach the positive contributions of LGBTQ+ individuals, alongside Black history education requirements.

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