Illinois became the first state last month to require schools in the state to teach a unit of Asian American history.
The Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History (TEAACH) Act mandates “a unit of instruction studying the events of Asian American history, including the history of Asian Americans in Illinois and the Midwest.”
“No state has ever done this,” said Sohyun An, a professor of elementary and early childhood education at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, per USA Today. “It is a watershed moment in history in terms of teaching Asian American history in K-12 schools.”
The mandate will take effect in the 2022-2023 school year.
Illinois State Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, a third-generation Chinese American who co-sponsored the bill, said it “helps create a more inclusive and comprehensive understanding of American history for all students in Illinois and helps fight anti-Asian racism and xenophobia.”
The mandate comes amid a rise in hate crimes committed against those communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The group Stop AAPI Hate collected reports of more than 6,600 hate incidents from March 2020 through March 2021.
“We’ve seen examples in the Chicago area of people harassed or attacked because of their perceived identities, and I think everybody feels the need for something like this to address the root of the violence,” said Grace Pai, executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice Chicago, per USA Today.