Asian American History Curriculum Bill Passes the Illinois House
Grace K. Pai, Director of Organizing
Asian Americans Advancing Justice—Chicago
The NASW-Illinois Chapter was a coalition member. Below is the press release released by Asian Americans Advancing Justice—Chicago.
SPRINGFIELD—Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago and a coalition of over 35 Illinois organizations applaud the passage of the Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History (TEAACH) Act (HB376) in the Illinois House. The bill passed yesterday afternoon with bipartisan support on a vote of 98-13. The TEAACH Act would require all Illinois public schools to teach a unit of Asian American history starting in the 2022-23 school year.
“Asian Americans are part of the American fabric, but we are often invisible. We have been the victims of racialized violence and exclusion throughout American history,” said State Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, the lead sponsor of the bill. “Empathy comes from understanding. We cannot do better unless we know better.”
This crucial bill has evoked powerful personal stories at each stage -- from youth, community members, and legislators -- highlighting the deeply personal impact of this timely legislation.
“Growing up as a Filipina-American, I’ve constantly felt underrepresented in my school’s curriculum. During the COVID-19 pandemic, when our communities have faced a rise in racial violence, we’ve seen the detrimental long-term effects of our nation’s history of xenophobia and anti-Asian racism,” said Mary Manching, a high school senior at Northside College Prep and youth leader with Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago. “Addressing these issues starts with tackling the misrepresentation and exclusion of Asian Americans within our curriculum. Those that control the narrative of the past, control the narrative of the future.”
“This is an important moment. The TEAACH Act will ensure the rich history of Asian Americans will be taught to future generations,” said Mike Takada, chief executive officer of the Japanese American Service Committee. “I’m thrilled at the thought of my grandson’s generation being able to see themselves and their community’s history in their classroom materials versus waiting until college like I had to.”
“The TEAACH Act would offer representation for diverse Asian American communities that have long histories and significant populations in the state of Illinois,” said Paul Luu, chief executive officer of the Chinese American Service League. “It would also give voice and visibility to our experiences as Asian Americans and the issues we face.”
To learn more about the TEAACH Act or contact your legislators about why you support the bill, visit www.advancingjustice-chicago.org/teaach.
About the TEAACH Coalition
The TEAACH Coalition is led by Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago, Cambodian Association of Illinois, Chinese Mutual Aid Association, Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community, HANA Center, Indo-American Center, Japanese American Citizens League Chicago, and Japanese American Service Committee.