Bill establishes the Genocide Education Trust Fund to educate students on the history of genocide
BOSTON – Today, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her colleagues in both chambers of the Massachusetts Legislature in passing An Act concerning genocide education to provide education to middle and high school students on the history of genocide and to promote the teaching of human rights issues.
“As a member of the Jewish community, it is incredibly important to me that our children learn about the atrocities committed across the globe throughout our history,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “Using our educational system to teach the next generation of leaders about genocides like the Holocaust is crucially important and will help to prevent such tragedies from occurring again.”
The bill requires middle schools and high schools in the Commonwealth to include instruction on the history of genocide. This most recent iteration of the legislation comes as incidences of hate and anti-Semitism are on the rise across the country, with several incidents reported in Massachusetts over the past year.
In 2020, a widely reported survey commissioned by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, which gauged Holocaust knowledge among millennials and Generation Z populations, found that 63 percent of survey respondents in the United States did not know six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust. The survey also found that nearly half were unfamiliar with Nazi concentration camps like Auschwitz. Massachusetts does not currently require Holocaust education or other genocides as part of classroom curriculum.
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 for 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.
The legislation 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. 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 governor’s desk.