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Local educators add Asian-American history into curriculum

The mandate comes after Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the bill into law July 9
New curriculum
New curriculum(WIFR)
Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 3:26 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Public school districts in Illinois will make history next fall, after Governor Pritzker signed new legislation requiring Asian-American history be taught in the state’s classrooms.

“It’s always exciting to have new curriculum,” said South Beloit School District Superintendent, Scott Fischer.

Ben Epperson is the Curriculum Executive Director for Rockford Public Schools. He said the Teaching Equitable Asian-American History Act comes as a growing number of Asian-Americans are targets of hate crimes during the pandemic.

“Is it certain lessons and activities? Is it a certain time period in a history class, whatever that might be,” Epperson said. “But then also, what’s the best way actually comply with that? What’s the best way to deliver that to kids?”

This can be presented in a variety of ways, Epperson said.

“Sometimes that’s treating it as a stand alone piece of curriculum, and sometimes that’s better served as an ongoing piece,” said Epperson.

Required topics for elementary and high school aged students include how Asian-Americans helped advance civil rights and their role in military service.

“So it’ll give us an area where there’s more opportunity for students to read about other cultures and other people,” said Fischer.

South Beloit School District Superintendent Scott Fisher said the new curriculum allows educators to tell the story of Asian-Americans in Illinois and the Midwest specifically.

“Anytime you get this type of studying going, I think it opens up the ability for skills to be taught - like communication and understanding,” said Fischer.

And combating false stereotypes to increase inclusivity inside classrooms.

“The more understanding you have of different cultures, the better,” said Fischer.

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