The Senate Committee on Education passed a bill Friday that would require Wisconsin schools to include the Holocaust and other genocides in their social studies curriculum.
The bill was expected to pass in the Senate last year after clearing the Assembly, but the COVID-19 pandemic put the effort on hold.
Legislators on both sides of the political aisle supported the bill when it was first introduced, and during the committee’s public hearing in March no one testified against its passage, according to WPR.
The re-introduced bill was authored by Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, Rep. Jon Plumer, R-Lodi, and Rep. Lisa Subeck, D-Madison. Subeck hopes that the bill will help raise more awareness and education on the Holocaust and other genocidal tragedies to combat harmful rhetoric.
“I can remember interviewing Holocaust survivors when I was a teenager as part of a youth group project to preserve their stories. While they shared survival stories that were nothing short of heroic, their stories were also those of tragic loss,” Rep. Subeck said in a press release. “Unfortunately, today’s children will likely never meet a Holocaust survivor. While they will not have a chance, as I did, to listen to their first hand stories, it is incumbent upon us to make sure this history is never repeated.”
Antisemitism and antisemitic hate crimes are on the rise in Wisconsin, while awareness and knowledge about the Holocaust is going down. A study conducted by the Claims Conference found that one-third of Americans believe that much less than six million European Jews were murdered during the Holocaust.
The bill outlines that at least once from fifth to eighth grade and at least once from ninth to twelfth grade, the Holocaust and other genocides must be included in the curriculum for all of Wisconsin’s public schools, independent charter schools and private schools participating in a parental choice program.
To formulate the required curriculum, Wisconsin’s superintendent will consult with a state organization or a state agency or another state that has already developed model curriculum for the Holocaust and other genocides.
Subeck thanked the Wisconsin-based Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center, which has made a commitment to provide materials and support at no cost to schools.
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