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Lawmakers seek to expand mandatory Holocaust education to charter, private schools

“It is imperative that our young people learn the history and lessons of the Holocaust.”

A pair of Democratic lawmakers are pushing a proposal requiring charter schools and private schools that accept scholarship vouchers to educate students about the Holocaust.

State Sen. Kevin Rader and state Rep. Tina Polsky have each filed bills in the Senate (SB 184) and House (HB 91), respectively.

The measures would expand statutory requirements the govern public schools’ Holocaust curriculum into those charter and private schools.

Currently, that section of the law requires “the history of the Holocaust (1933-1945), the systematic, planned annihilation of European Jews and other groups by Nazi Germany, a watershed event in the history of humanity, to be taught in a manner that leads to an investigation of human behavior, an understanding of the ramifications of prejudice, racism, and stereotyping, and an examination of what it means to be a responsible and respectful person, for the purposes of encouraging tolerance of diversity in a pluralistic society and for nurturing and protecting democratic values and institutions.”

The legislation also expands that part of the law. Schools would also be required to “[s]timulate students’ reflection on the roles and responsibilities of citizens in democratic societies to combat misinformation, indifference, and discrimination” and “[p]reserve the memories of survivors of the Holocaust and provide opportunities for students to discuss and honor survivors’ legacies,” among other requirements.

The bills come after controversy over former Spanish River High School principal William Latson telling a parent: “Not everyone believes the Holocaust happened.”

Rader and Polsky were among the lawmakers calling for the district to decline to renew Latson’s contract.

“It is imperative that our young people learn the history and lessons of the Holocaust,” Rader said of the new legislation.

“As time moves on, we must equip future generations with factual, historical knowledge that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. This legislation will do just that. We call upon our colleagues in the Legislature to join us in supporting this bill.”

The measures also task the Department of Education with developing standards for a Holocaust curriculum. The Department would also maintain a list of experts and volunteers to share their knowledge of the Holocaust inside the classroom.

“We look forward to working with our colleagues in a bipartisan fashion to advance this important bill,” Polsky added.

“Every government-funded school must teach our children about the atrocities of the Holocaust, and they must learn the importance of confronting racism in order to prevent future tragedies.”

Written By

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to ryan.t.nicol@gmail.com.

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