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VICTORY! TEAACH Act Passed 108-10

TEACCH Act Victory

Press release from Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Chicago:

TEAACH Act, Asian American history curriculum bill, heads to Governor’s desk

If signed into law, Illinois would be the first state in the country to require a unit on Asian American history in public schools 

SPRINGFIELD (May 31, 2021) -- The TEAACH Act (Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History), HB 376, a bill that would require public schools in Illinois to incorporate a unit on Asian American history, passed out of the Illinois State House on concurrence with a vote of 108-10 on May 31st. The bill now goes to the Governor’s desk and advocates expect him to sign it into law.

The historic bill was introduced by State Sen. Ram Villivalam and State Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, and was championed by Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago and a coalition of over 35 organizations.

The bill has evoked powerful personal stories at each stage -- from youth, community members, and legislators -- highlighting the deeply personal impact of this timely legislation.

“The best way to defeat ignorance is education, and that starts with our local public schools. The TEAACH Act will ensure that students are taught a more complete American history, one that intentionally includes rather than intentionally excludes the contributions of Asian Americans,” said State Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, House Sponsor of the bill. “I attended Illinois public schools throughout my childhood but it wasn’t until I was in law school that I learned about the Chinese Exclusion Acts. I never had the opportunity to learn about the very laws that sought to deport my own grandparents. The TEAACH Act will ensure Asian American students have the opportunity to learn about our heritage and Asian American contributions to the fabric of our nation.”

“As a South Asian immigrant and Pakistani-Muslim American, many parts of my identity and my people’s history were consistently missing from my education,” said Sahar Shafqat, a teacher at Lane Technical High School and a community leader with the Indo-American Center, a supporting organization behind the bill. “As an educator, I get to play an active role in changing that for our communities. TEAACH is essential because it allows students to see themselves represented and feel seen in our world.”

“As someone who was born in a refugee camp and resettled in America as a refugee, it is important for me to understand and know what brought my family here. It is also crucial for my U.S. born children and future generations to understand our history,” said Anneth Houy, Director of Youth Programs at the Cambodian Association of Illinois, an organization supporting the bill. “Acknowledging our diverse histories will help build a better understanding and appreciation of what Asian Americans have faced.”

If signed, the bill would go into effect during the 2022-2023 school year.