Lawmakers from 20 states pledge to mandate Holocaust education
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Lawmakers from 20 states pledge to mandate Holocaust education

(JTA) — Some 26 legislators representing 20 states have committed to introduce legislation that would require public schools to teach about the Holocaust, the Armenian genocide and other genocides.

The states are among the 42 in the United States that do not already require education on genocide awareness and prevention, the New York-based Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect said in announcing that it had obtained the commitments as part of its 50 State Genocide Education Project to mandate genocide education in public schools across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The center made the announcement on Monday, observed this year both as Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, and Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day.

It asked the state legislators to sign a pledge to introduce legislation that would require genocide education, or in some cases to strengthen a state’s existing requirement through a commission or task force. The 26 legislators have signed the pledge, the center said in a statement.

The 20 states are Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington.

Three states — Florida, Illinois and New Jersey — require genocide education from grades K-12, and have a state commission or task force to keep genocide education comprehensive and up to date. California and Michigan require genocide education from grades 7 or 8 through 12, and have a state commission or task force. Indiana, New York and Rhode Island mandate genocide education from grades 7 or 8 through 12 but do not have a commission or task force.

“Our goal is to teach that genocide is not just somebody else’s story,” said state Rep. Jeffrey Roy, D-Mass., who has proposed legislation on genocide education. “Genocide is not simply about killing people, but also about destroying humanity. By including genocide in the curriculum, we will give students a better understanding of the human condition and increase efforts worldwide for preventing further genocides.”