Impacting 1.9 Million Students Across Illinois

This Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, we are reminded of the value and importance of inclusion of the AAPI Community in education. A recent report issued by The Asian American Foundation and LAAUNCH, found that one-third of Americans “cannot recall a significant Asian American historical event or policy.” 

2022 EP Summer Fellow Alum Jor Torres and 2022-2023 EP Impact Fellow Jordan Weatherl have been working to change that reality.  

Both Jordan and Jor spent their EP Fellowship experiences working at the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to support teachers, administrators, community members—and ultimately students—to bring awareness and understanding of the AAPI experience, history, and contributions to classrooms throughout Illinois in accordance with the Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History (TEAACH) Act

Passed by the Illinois General Assembly in 2021, the TEAACH Act made Illinois the first state to require Asian American history instruction at every public K-12 school starting in the 2022-2023 school year. 

As a 2022 EP Summer Fellow, Jor worked in partnership with the The Asian American Foundation, Advancing Justice Chicago and the Asian American Education Project to draft a standards-aligned teacher resource guide and scaffolding for a Classroom Partners program to provide guidance and expertise. 

“Illinois is taking a bold step towards an approach to social sciences that is fundamentally more inclusive and equitable,” said Jor. 

As a result of Jor’s work, 1.9 million students and 130,000 across the state began the 2022-2023 school year with a new foundation for Asian American history and cross-cultural education. 

As a current EP Impact Fellow, Jordan is building on Jor’s efforts to support the practical implementation of the TEAACH Act.

Jordan has hosted a series of public webinars (including with ISBE Chair Dr. Steven Isoye), published a teacher-centered resource guide, coordinated a public-private partnership with multiple organizations, worked with other state departments of education and supported districts to be better equipped and shift towards the inclusive history of Asian American stories.

“As I worked in a public-private partnership to equip and empower teachers to take a step towards teaching inclusive history, I realized it is deeply important to build strong partnerships with communities most affected by change, work with experts who are best equipped to inform decision making, and find ways to build sustainable support through relationship and resource building,” said Jordan. “I have been incredibly honored and proud of the work we have been able to accomplish.”