BFKN is proud to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, and we are pleased to recognize the contributions and influence of AAPI individuals to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States. Throughout the month of May, we will be spotlighting significant legal cases and developments related to the AAPI community and how those developments have shaped American history. This week we highlight recent Illinois legislative developments connected to the AAPI community, in particular, the Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History (TEAACH) Act, which requires Asian American history be taught in public schools starting in the 2022-2023 school year.
On July 13, 2021, The Illinois Senate passed the Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History Act, better known as the TEAACH Act, by a unanimous vote of 57-0. The bill requires all public elementary and high schools in the state to devote at least one unit of curriculum to the history of Asian Americans in the U.S., including in Illinois and the Midwest. The act also requires U.S. history courses to include the role that Asian Americans have played in advancing civil rights and highlight their contributions to the country’s development.
Illinois became the first state in the nation to pass legislation requiring Asian American history be part of public education requirements. The Act came at a time when growing numbers of Asian Americans were targets of hate crimes in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Act's backers expressed hope that the legislation could help combat stereotypes and ignorance about Asian Americans, which they said dehumanize and marginalize the community and create an environment in which acts of hate and violence against Asian Americans are accepted. States including New Jersey, Connecticut and New York have since passed or proposed similar legislation.
To learn more about the TEAACH Act, click here.