Nation’s First School Mandate On American Asian History

by Jan Frazier

Springfield, Illinois  (Washington Insider Magazin )  Passed on May 31, 2021, is House Bill 367, requiring public schools to teach Asian American History.

A bill — clearing the last legislative hurdle came into effect on Monday –that would make it a requirement that Asian American history to be taught in all public schools in Illinois. Through all of it, though, there has been national concerns “about anti-Asian hate and discrimination.”

The bill cleared the State House, 108-10. Unanimously, it had passed the Senate last week. It is expected that Governor J.B. Pritzker will “sign the bill, which would mandate a unit about the Asian American experience, including the community’s history in Illinois and the Midwest.” This will all occur during the 2022-2023 school year.

Illinois State Representative, Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, who co-sponsored the Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History Act – TEAACH—said, “It’s been incredibly gratifying to see support from the Asian American community and from the non-Asian community.”

Gong-Gershowitz along with State Senator Ram Villivalam attempted to get the bill passed in 2020, but there was too much going on with the pandemic and so they let it be until now.

Villivalam said, “I was an Asian kid in a mostly Caucasian class. I was an Asian American youth in a mostly African American class. At times it was a struggle to figure out who I was.” Having a bill that puts Asian American experiences into the classroom will be wonderful. Gong-Gershowitz said. “Asian Americans are experiencing a lot of pain right now with the shameful rise in anti-Asian hate. This is a way to do something positive about it.”

This vote comes soon after President Joe Biden signed a new anti-Asian hate crime law in to affect. It will make it easier to “report attacks online in multiple languages and authorize a new position in the Justice Department in Illinois.”

Since Illinois has become interested in signing this new law, there are several other states – 10 to be exact — that are also interested.


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