Illinois House passes bill that would mandate Asian-American history lessons in schools
The Illinois House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bill that would mandate Asian-American history lessons in schools.
The lower chamber passed HB376, also known as the Teaching Equitable Asian-American History Act (TEAACH).
The bill mandates that beginning in the 2022-2023 school year, history curriculums in public elementary and high schools have to include “a unit of instruction studying the events of Asian American history,” such as the history of Asian Americans in Illinois and the West, and their contributions toward advancing civil rights “from the 19th century onward.”
It also says the State Superintendent can make available instructional materials that can be used as a guide for school boards to develop their curriculums.
The bill passed 98-13, according to the vote tally on the legislature’s website.
In a video of her floor speech posted to Facebook, state Rep. Jennifer Gong- Gershowitz (D), who sponsored the bill, said that Asian Americans are often left out of American history.
“Asian Americans are apart of the American fabric, but we are often invisible. We have been the victims of radicalized violence and exclusion throughout Asian American history,” she said.
The bill now heads to the Senate, where it still has to go through committees before the chamber can vote on it. According to Reuters, the bill would make Illinois the first state to mandate that a unit of Asian-American history be taught in schools.
The measure comes amid a rise in anti-Asian discrimination and hate over the past year. Advocates and lawmakers have attributed it in large part to the anti-Asian rhetoric used by former President Trump and other politicians during coronavirus pandemic.
Stop AAPI Hate, a group which tracks anti-Asian and Pacific Islander discrimination, said last month that 68 percent of the discrimination it has received reports of were verbal harassment alone.
The conversation was thrust into the national spotlight last month after shootings at an Atlanta-area spa left eight dead, including six Asian-American women.