Illinois is the first state to require the curriculum
Information provided by the Governor’s Office
SKOKIE, Ill. (July 9, 2021) – On Friday, July 9, Governor JB Pritzker signed HB 376, the Teaching Equitable Asian American History Act, into law, making Illinois the first state in the nation to require a unit of Asian American history be taught in public schools. The measure will ensure every public high school graduate in Illinois will learn about Asian American history as well as the contributions and traditions of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
The legislation adds a new section on Asian American history study to the Illinois School Code. Beginning with the 2022-2023 school year, every public elementary school and high school will be required to include a unit of instruction studying the events of Asian American History, including the history of Asian Americans in Illinois and the Midwest. The requirement is hoped to teach students about Asian American history, as well as curtail the recent rise in violence against Asian Americans.
“Today, we are reaffirming our commitment to creating more inclusive school environments. We’re making Illinois the first state in the nation to require that Asian American history will be taught in public schools, including a unit about the Asian American experience,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “We are setting a new standard for what it means to truly reckon with our history. It’s a new standard that helps us understand one another, and, ultimately, to move ourselves closer to the nation of our ideals.”
The bill specifies that the curriculum should include:
- The contributions of Asian Americans toward advancing civil rights from the 19th century onward
- The contributions made by individual Asian Americans in government, arts, humanities, and sciences
- The contributions of Asian American communities to the economic, cultural, social, and political development of the United States.
While the legislation specifies topics that should be addressed in the curriculum, the state will not require or designate a specific curriculum for school districts. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) is authorized to make instructional materials available to all school boards; however, each school board will determine the minimum amount of instructional time that qualifies as a unit of instruction as stated in the bill.
In Governor Pritzker’s first year in office, he signed a bill requiring Illinois schools to include the contributions of LGBTQ+ individuals in history lessons. The administration also created the Affirming and Inclusive Schools Task Force to identify strategies to help build supportive school environments and disrupt patterns of discrimination. Earlier this year, the administration expanded Black history education requirements.
HB 376 takes effect on January 1, 2022.