Friday, July 31, 2020
Establishes the Genocide Education Trust Fund to educate students on the history of genocide.
The Massachusetts State Senate on Thursday passed An Act concerning genocide education to educate middle and high school students on the history of genocide and to promote the teaching of human rights issues.
“To forge a more just future, our next generation must be educated on the tragic history of the Holocaust and other instances of genocide,” stated Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “The importance of this bill cannot be overstated, and I say this as a Jewish woman and the daughter of a World War II veteran who helped liberate the victims of Nazi concentration camps. I am very thankful to Senators Rodrigues, Lewis and Creem for their advocacy on this issue and my colleagues for their unanimous support.”
“Seventy-five years after the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp, we, as a society, continue to grapple with the root causes of hatred and discrimination. With the passage of this bill today, we take a critically important step to ensuring our students are educated on the Holocaust, the grave mistakes of the past, and stand ready to root out the injustices of the future,” said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “As the forces of fake news, division, and ignorance continue to march on, I applaud Senate President Spilka and my colleagues in the Senate for standing up to say that we will never forget the lessons of the past. I also thank my constituent, Dr. Ron Weisberger, and the advocates for their urgent efforts to ensure we use the power of education to address hate, broaden public awareness, and shape our collective future.”
According to a 2018 article in the New York Times, 31% of Americans and 41% of millennials believe 2 million Jews or fewer were murdered in the Holocaust while 41% of Americans and 66% of millennials do not know what Auschwitz is. This bill would establish a Genocide Education Trust Fund to promote and educate middle and high school students on the history of genocide. Funds in this trust would be used to encourage the instruction of middle and high school students on the history of genocide and ensure the development of curricular materials, as well as to provide professional development training to assist educators in the teaching of genocide.
"Thanks to Chairman Rodrigues for his leadership on a matter of importance - ensuring that students in our state learn about these horrific events so that our society can be better equipped to prevent anything like them from happening again, and sensitive to the impacts they have had on victims throughout history. Our caucus is pleased to join with all of our colleagues in this legislative effort," said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R - Gloucester). "By having opportunities to learn about these events of the past students will be enriched, better informed, and more able to reject hatred and intolerance."
The bill requires each school district to annually file a description of their lesson plan and programs related to genocide education with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). The bill also establishes a competitive grant program that schools and districts can apply to for additional programming support.
An Act concerning genocide education now moves to the Massachusetts House of Representatives for consideration