The US state of Illinois is now the first in the country to require that school kids get an education in Asian American history.  

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, signed the bill, called the Teaching Equitable Asian American History Act, into law. It requires the state’s public elementary and high schools to include Asian American history in their curriculum starting with the 2022-23 school year.  New law requires US-Asian history taught in state schools

“Today we are reaffirming our commitment to creating more inclusive classrooms,” Pritzker tweeted.

The bill’s sponsor, Asian-American Representative Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, said: “Asian American history is American history. Yet we are often invisible.” 

The bill signing comes in the midst of a fierce debate over whether US schools should be teaching Critical Race Theory, which suggests that racism and other prejudices are social constructs embedded in legal systems and laws, rather than being the product of individual biases. 

The new law in Illinois passed mostly under the radar, with little known push-back, but Asian American advocates said it was sorely needed.

A study by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University found that attacks against Asian Americans in the nation’s 16 largest cities rose by an unprecedented 164% in the first four months of 2021, continuing a trend from 2020, and sparked by misplaced anger over the Chinese-born coronavirus.​​​​​​​ 

Representative Gong-Gershowitz added that the law “will ensure that the next generation of Asian American students won’t need to attend law school to learn about their heritage.”

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