Pop quiz: Which state first passed a law requiring that the history of Asian American Pacific Islanders be taught in school?
The law (HB376) is among those that come into effect in the new year.
K-12 schools have until the 2022-2023 school year to begin teaching an Asian American history unit, but Grace Chan McKibben, director of the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community, said that the job now is to help the districts with the implementation.
â€œThis means the story of Asian Americans, which is often invisible – there have been Asian Americans in this country since the mid-1800s, but it has not been taught in schools – and it will allow all the challenges as well as all the successes to be a part of American history that is taught in schools, â€said Chan McKibben.
A separate new law (SB564) requires schools to include “the contributions made to society by Americans of various religious practices including, but not limited to,” American Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists.
During this time, schools may need to update their dress codes quickly.
Another law (SB817) takes effect prohibits schools from discriminating against natural and ethnic hairstyles, such as locs, twists and afros.
It is named the Jett Hawkins law, according to a four-year-old whose school wouldn’t let him wear braids.
â€œThe real culprit here are cases where black youth have been kicked out of school, suspended from sports teams and things like that,â€ said Senator Mike Simmons, D-Chicago, sponsor of the measure. â€œI hope that schools will take as a gesture to be more open-minded about all hairstyles. It is a form of expression. And study after study, we have learned that discrimination against young people’s hairstyles has a negative effect on their mental health. Considering how much our young people are going through this pandemic, we must do everything we can to help them heal and learn. “
Students with mental or behavioral health problems will now be entitled to five excused absences from school.
Illinois law now includes “sanity” as a valid reason for missing a class.
After two days of mental health, the student can be referred to school support staff, such as a counselor.
Illinois high school graduates will no longer need to sweat the SATs or ACTs to enter any of the state’s public universities.
Students can submit their scores, but they will not be required to do so.
Representative Kam Buckner, D-Illinois, said Bill 226 is a way to give Illinois residents an edge in the admissions process. When students leave home for an out-of-state school, they often don’t come back.
â€œYou look at the enrollments in places like Arizona public universities, you will see a bumper crop of Illinois residents. It fixes that problem and gives Illinois residents a boost, â€Buckner said. â€œWe want more students to stayâ€¦ in Illinois for college, to contribute to our state, to contribute to our economy; to raise families and start businesses here.
He also said the change can help close the achievement gap as standardized tests don’t necessarily capture a student’s full potential.
â€œThese test scores can often be a barrier to post-secondary education. And what’s more, all too often, when we see these people doing well on standardized tests versus those who don’t, we know that they come from a certain socio-economic background in many cases, â€he said. Buckner said. “And all too often, the wage gap with families turns into a success gap that turns into a quality of life gap, a life expectancy gap.”
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