Holocaust education proposed

State Rep. Brendan Boyle last Friday held a news conference at the Klein JCC to unveil his legislation requiring Pennsylvania schools to provide Holocaust and genocide education.

The event was held at the Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center at Klein JCC, at 10100 Jamison Ave.

“Knowing our history is the only way to ensure that the mistakes of our past are never repeated,” Boyle said. “The lessons learned from the atrocities committed during the Holocaust and other genocides must be used as an example of how it is essential to exercise tolerance and compassion. My legislation will ensure that Pennsylvania students are provided with this valuable and important message.”

Boyle (D-170th dist.) was joined by state Sen. Anthony Williams and representatives from the museum and other Holocaust education groups.

Under the bill, the state Department of Education would develop a model curriculum to be used by schools beginning with the 2014–15 academic year. The instruction would be integrated within the social studies and language arts courses in accordance with the State Board of Education regulations.

The bill would also require training and instruction programs on the Holocaust, genocide and human rights violations for teachers.

Five states have enacted laws requiring the teaching of the Holocaust in schools, according to the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research. Those states are New Jersey, New York, Florida, Illinois and California.

“The world has become more complex, so it is critical that we arm our children with the information they need to navigate it successfully on every front, and having a solid sense of history aids in that effort,” Williams said. “It would simply be irresponsible to allow our children to fall susceptible to campaigns of lies, particularly about events of great human tragedy. And without study of the Holocaust and other instances of genocide, too many are left vulnerable to the half-truths and viciousness of Holocaust deniers and others, whether here or abroad. Ignorance in this arena gives fertile room for indifference, or worse, repetition.” ••