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Congress mandates Holocaust education in grades K-12

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    Congress mandates Holocaust education in grades K-12; science and math requirements to be dropped. New legislation would also replace arts and crafts in senior
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 3, 2007
      Congress mandates Holocaust education in grades K-12; science and math
      requirements to be dropped. New legislation would also replace arts
      and crafts in senior citizens' homes with workshops on Holocaust denial.

      Shoah education aim of federal bill: Funding for legislation could
      provide curriculum guidelines and training for educators
      By Kristin Erekson
      The Jewish Advocate

      With more than 62 years having passed since the Shoah, local and state
      lawmakers are working to give Holocaust education a boost.

      Currently being reviewed by committees in the U.S. House of
      Representatives and Senate, the Simon Wiesenthal Holocaust Education
      Assistance Act – if passed – would provide select organizations
      nationwide with competitive grants to be used to develop Holocaust
      curriculum guides as well as training for teachers.

      The act would distribute $10 million – $2 million yearly for five
      years – in federal funding to establish these programs, according to
      Newtonville resident Rosian Zerner, a Holocaust survivor from
      Lithuania who is supporting the bill. The U.S. Secretary of Education
      determines the recipients of the funds and the amounts of the awards.

      "Massachusetts should be at the forefront of this legislation," said
      Zerner, who has been fervently sending out letters and meeting with
      legislators to garner more support for the act. "Holocaust education
      is important because it not only stands as a symbol of what should not
      be repeated in history but it is also necessary at a point where there
      are so many Holocaust deniers."

      Upon receiving a letter from Zerner, Congressman Barney Frank
      (D-Mass.) decided earlier this month to become a co-sponsor of the
      bill. Frank said he is "doing this for the world."

      "The more you learn about things, the better it is to make sure you
      avoid anything like it," Frank added

      U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, who is the author of the bill in the
      Senate, told the Advocate in an e-mail that the Holocaust Education
      Assistant Act is needed now more than ever because there are some who
      still deny "the Holocaust's very existence."

      Menendez, along with other lawmakers, found it fitting to name the
      bill after the late Simon Wiesenthal, a survivor of the Nazi death
      camps who dedicated his life to documenting the crimes of the
      Holocaust and to hunting down the perpetrators still at large. The act
      has no connection with the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Menendez said.

      "I believe this legislation will be an important step to ensuring that
      students continue to learn about the Holocaust in an accurate and
      comprehensive manner," Menendez added.

      According to the text of the act, several states, such as California,
      Florida and Illinois, now mandate Holocaust education in curricula.
      However, Heidi P. Guarino, spokeswoman for the state Department of
      Education, said Massachusetts does not exactly "mandate" the teaching
      of the Shoah.

      Instead, Guarino added, the Massachusetts History and Social Science
      Curriculum Framework dedicates one world history learning standard to
      the Holocaust, as well as another addressing the creation of the state
      of Israel in 1948.

      If the bill is passed, Guarino said that it will "spur a very intense
      effort on the development of teaching units and other materials on
      this subject."

      Alan Ronkin, deputy director of the Jewish Community Relations Council
      of Greater Boston, told the Advocate that teaching about the Holocaust
      is "critical to shape the next generation."

      Added Ronkin: "Holocaust education not only teaches about the past,
      but it also uses the lessons of the past to help shape students'
      decisions to become future leaders [who fight] against racism, bigotry
      and anti-Semitism."



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