Lawmakers approve bill to make genocide education mandatory

BOSTON (AP) – Middle school and high school students in Massachusetts will learn about the history of the genocide and human rights issues under a bill approved by state lawmakers on Wednesday.

The bill requires colleges and high schools in the state to include education on the history of the genocide. The legislation comes as cases of hate and anti-Semitism are on the rise across the country, with several incidents reported in Massachusetts over the past year, lawmakers said.

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker has 10 days to decide whether or not to sign the bill. Massachusetts does not currently require education about the Holocaust or other genocides as part of its school curriculum.

Lawmakers renewed pressure to make genocide history education mandatory earlier this year after a high school football coach was sacked over reports the team used a anti-Semitic language, including a mention of Auschwitz, in his field appeal.

The Massachusetts Senate last year approved a similar bill requiring genocide education before students graduate from high school, but it did not reach Baker’s office.

This bill would create a genocide education trust fund to support the development of educational materials and provide professional development training for educators.

The legislation would also require school districts to file annually a description of their lesson plans and programs for educating students about genocide with the Ministry of Elementary and Secondary Education.

According to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, up to 17 states require Holocaust education as part of their high school programs.

Lawmakers supporting the bill cite a 2020 Jewish Material Claims Conference investigation against Germany. The survey assessed knowledge about the Holocaust among millennials and Gen Z populations and found that 63% of those surveyed in the United States were unaware that six million Jews had been murdered during the Holocaust.

The survey also found that nearly half of those polled were unfamiliar with Nazi concentration camps like Auschwitz.

Democratic Senate Speaker Karen Spilka has said that if past crimes against humanity cannot be undone, society must learn from them.

“As the Jewish wife and daughter of a WWII veteran who liberated the Buchenwald concentration camp, I believe it is our responsibility to ensure that we educate our children about the many cases of genocide in through history so that it never repeats itself, ”Spilka said. in a written statement.

An external investigator discovered in June that the Duxbury High School football team that used anti-Semitic language in a game this season have been using similar language in training for about a decade.

The investigator was hired in March in response to revelations that the Duxbury High School team used the word ‘Auschwitz’ during an on-field call during a game. The team also used the words “rabbi” and “dreidel”.

In a summary of the report released at the time, Duxbury Schools Superintendent John Antonucci said the coaching staff were likely aware the team was using such language.

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