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The TEAACH Act: How to Integrate Equitable Asian American Community History into the Curriculum

By: Samina Hadi-Tabassum, EdD and Jung Kim, PhD

Since the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020, Asian Americans have been targets of violence, harassment, vandalism, bullying, hate speech and derogatory language in media reports and statements by politicians as well as on social media platforms. Elderly Asian American women have been targeted in public spaces like train stations and busy city streets with violent, heinous crimes leading to their beating and hospitalization. In school settings, Asian American children have been wrongly accused of starting the pandemic and spreading the disease through verbal abuse, along with physical harassment and public scapegoating.

Anti-Asian hate and xenophobia is all too familiar and has been a part of our American history:

  • Asian Americans were denied citizenship and were perpetually treated as foreigners.
  • In the 1800s, angry mobs burned down Asian American enclaves along the west coast and massacred Asian American communities.
  • Nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans were removed from their rightful homes and wrongly placed in incarceration camps during WWII.
  • Asian American workers on sugar plantations, railroads and factories were exploited for cheap labor and were forced to work under horrific conditions.
  • After 9/11, the Sikh Coalition documented over 300 acts of violence and discrimination against their faith community.

To counter the current wave of anti-Asian hate, as well as address the injustices of the past, Governor Pritzker signed the TEAACH Act (Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History) into Illinois law in 2021 to promote tolerance, address harmful stereotypes and combat racism by requiring the teaching of Asian American history and culture in public schools. The historic bill was introduced by State Sen. Ram Villivalam and State Rep. Jennifer Gong Gershowitz, and it makes Illinois the first state to set standards for the teaching of culturally competent Asian American history curriculum, regardless of the student population in the district.

We invite educators and leaders in your PreK-8 school community to learn more about how they can integrate an inclusive and authentic approach towards Asian American history, culture, and literature. We will also share our own personal stories as Asian American scholars and former students in the Illinois public school system and how our local communities are a part of our collective identities.

Register for our upcoming professional development opportunities and learn more about integrating Asian American history into your curriculum.

Teaching Asian American History, Culture, and Literature for the PreK-8 Classroom

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