Establishes the Genocide Education Trust Fund to educate students on the history of genocide
BOSTON (8/10/2020) – The Massachusetts Senate recently passed the Genocide Education Act to educate middle and high school students on the history of genocide and to promote the teaching of human rights issues.
“Hate incidents and hate crimes have increased dramatically in recent years, which is why it’s imperative that we use every tool at our disposal to dismantle hate in our Commonwealth, said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington). “Education and learning about the history of genocide – and the painful consequences of ignorance, bigotry and intolerance – is one of those tools. I believe the passage of this bill is an important step toward equipping the next generation with the knowledge and the resources they need to recognize hate and to dispel hate in our communities.”
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.
“We congratulate Senate President Spilka, Senate Ways and Means Chair Rodrigues, and our partners in government for coming together to ensure that students in our state will learn invaluable lessons about the consequences of hate and bigotry, from the most painful parts of our history,” said Aaron Agulnek, Director of Government Affairs for the Jewish Community Relations Council. “We cannot simply say ‘Never Again’ if we do not also commit to educating the next generation by giving them the resources they need to recognize and stand up to injustice before it takes root.”
“We appreciate the leadership of Senate President Spilka, Senate Ways and Means Chair Rodrigues, and their legislative colleagues for taking a critical step toward ensuring that Massachusetts public school students receive Holocaust and genocide education prior to high school graduation,” said Robert Trestan, ADL New England Regional Director. “The need for Holocaust and genocide education in K-12 schools could not be more urgent. Massachusetts now has an opportunity to use the power of education to address hate through this essential initiative for Holocaust and genocide education in the Commonwealth.”
The billrequires 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.
The bill,An Act concerning genocide education,now moves to the Massachusetts House of Representatives for consideration.