Villivalam: Asian-American history act ‘offers students of all backgrounds cross-cultural education’ (Springfield, IL) – At the signing of the bill that would make Illinois the first state to mandate Asian-American history in its schools’ curriculum, chief Senate sponsor Sen. Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago) spoke about how proud he is to be part of this historic legislation.
“This milestone offers students of all backgrounds cross-cultural education and ensures the stories and experiences of our communities are accurately reflected in the classroom,” Villivalam said. “I’m a product of Illinois public schools. I grew up in the city of Chicago … I was the only youth in my class that was Asian American and I had those questions myself of who am I and who is my community. Those questions were left unanswered, and in some cases, wrong assumptions were made.”
He thanked House sponsor Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz (D-Glenview), advocacy groups and his family for making this new law possible, and was proud of how the new teaching standards will benefit all students.
He also lauded the youth of today “because I as a youth did not have the foresight or the perseverance and determination … to go out and advocate for this policy.” He said that the measure was a collaborative effort within the community, students, educators, and advocates.
“The community is incredibly diverse. We have so many communities within our community and to work together to ensure that we’re all at the table and we are all represented and we’re moving legislation forward, that benefits our entire community.”
Just as his colleague Gong-Gershowitz spoke about her family at the signing, Villivalam also said he was grateful for his family and shared a brief story about them.
“As the son of Indian immigrants and representative of one of the most diverse districts in the state, I am so proud to have sponsored this legislation in the Illinois Senate and like Rep. Gong- Dershowitz, I wouldn’t be here without my family,” Villivalam said. “She and my dad came to this country in the 1970s. I want to give a shout-out to that generation and the generations before them, they made this possible. Their foresight, their risk-taking in coming to this country. And I am just so grateful for that. We have a lot to be proud of in terms of our community and we’re going to start to see it in our curriculum.”
Rep. Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield) was also a co-sponsor of the bill.
HB376 was enacted into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker on July 9.
The TEAACH ACT, or Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History takes effect on Jan. 1, 2022.
Villivalam: Asian-American history act ‘offers students of all backgrounds cross-cultural education’