Legislation

Illinois Becomes First State to Mandate Asian-American History in Schools

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a bill on Friday requiring public schools to teach Asian-American history, the first such step by a U.S. state amid rising concerns about violence against people of Asian descent.

Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History (TEAACH) Act, which mandates “a unit of instruction studying 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.”

Image Source: Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Illinois State Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, a co-sponsor to the bill, also celebrated as House Bill 376. “The TEAACH Act will ensure that the next generation of Asian Americans students won’t need to travel across the county or attend law school to learn something about their heritage,” Gong-Gershowitz said.

A study from the California State University, San Bernardino reported a 189% increase in Anti-AAPI Hate Crimes happening in major cities during the first quarter of 2021.

Will Asian-American History mandated in schools decrease hate crimes against AAPI? The highest level of Asian hate crime reported from the study took place in New York City with a 262% increase up to 47 hate crimes, in contrast with 13 hate crimes during the first quarter of 2020—before New York was shut down towards the end of March. Chicago, has had a 0% increase in hate crimes. There have been no recorded hate crimes in either first quarter reported during 2020 and 2021. Could Mayors—such as DeBlasio, and Pritzker—have an influence on the statistics of hate crimes in major cities?

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