SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) — Illinois is one step closer to requiring Native American history for all public elementary and high school students.
House Bill 1633 would require school districts to include Native American history curriculum in social studies classes at the start of the 2024-2025 school year.
Advocates have worked with state lawmakers over the past few years to draft the best bill language for teaching students about major events of the Native American experience and Native history of the Midwest and Illinois.
“It is not enough for us to merely exist in a country and state built on Native American land,” said Joseph Rupnick, chairman of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation. “We must relentlessly advocate for Native American curriculum at our schools.”
Students in sixth grade and up would be taught about the genocide and discrimination of Native Americans. They could also have units on treaties that led to forced relocation.
An organization working for economic, educational, and social progress for Native Americans would also be added to the state’s education equity committee under this legislation.
“I want to remind everyone that Native American history is American history,” said Sen. Suzy Glowiak Hilton (D-Western Springs). “Why should we teach this? It’s important. Why should we be teaching Native American history? One of the most important things that we have been misrepresenting and leaving out is Native American history.”
The Illinois State Board of Education will work with Native leaders to ensure school districts receive instruction materials and professional development opportunities to use as guidelines for developing the history units. Each school would be allowed to determine the minimum amount of time that qualifies as a unit of instruction of Native American history.
This plan passed out of the Senate Education Committee on a 10-3 vote. House Bill 1633 now heads to the Senate floor for further consideration. This legislation passed out of the House on a 75-32-1 vote on March 23. If approved by the Senate, the proposal will head to Gov. JB Pritzker’s desk.
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April 18, 2023 at 07:48PM