Proposal would make Holocaust education part of required curriculum

Written by Craig Layne, Morning Edition Host/Reporter | Aug 7, 2013 12:00 PM

The gate of a Nazi concentration camp.

(Harrisburg) -- One state lawmaker plans to re-introduce legislation that would require the teaching of the history of the Holocaust and other acts of genocide in the commonwealth's public schools.

State Representative Brendan Boyle is behind the measure that would create age-appropriate curriculum for students in grades 6 through 12 in language arts and social studies classes.

The Philadelphia Democrat says he's been inspired to push for the requirement after getting to know people who survived the systematic killing of Jews and other groups by the Nazis in World War II.

"It's so important that their stories are told and listened to by as wide an audience as possible," Boyle says. "So people, A, know their history, and B, realize the most dramatic example of what can happen when hatred is left unchecked."

Boyle's proposal has been defeated before on concerns it would create a mandate that would be a burden to school districts.

A Republican-backed measure strongly encouraging, but not requiring, schools to offer instruction on the Holocaust, genocide and human rights violations passed the House unanimously in June.

It requires the state Department of Education to establish guidelines for the curriculum.

Five other states have laws similar to the one Boyle is pursing.  

He says New Jersey's requirement is the model for his legislation.

He plans to bring up the bill again this fall.

Boyle made his comments on witf's Radio Smart Talk.

This story has been updated to include information about the House bill passed in June.

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