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Senate panel approves Lauren Book Holocaust education bill after Auschwitz survivor testifies

Legislation comes after a school principal reportedly questioned the Holocaust.

Auschwitz survivor Magdalen Bader appeared before the Senate Thursday to advocate for a Holocaust education bill being pushed by Sen. Lauren Book.

That bill was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday morning. That hearing marked its final committee stop, meaning the measure is ready for the full Senate floor.

Bader was born in Czechoslovakia and survived several concentration camps, including Auschwitz.

“I may look like I’m happy and smiling — and I am — but inside me, every day I think of all the horrors that we went through,” Bader said.

“I cannot believe that this happened to me and so many millions of others many, many, many years ago. But it’s still very important to remember.”

State law already requires the Holocaust to be taught in Florida’s public schools. Book’s bill (SB 1628) would expand that education by also mandating students to be taught about anti-Semitism.

The legislation also requires school districts and charter schools to annually certify to the Department of Education (DoE) schools are meeting those requirements.

The measure also tasks the DoE with preparing minimum standards for the Holocaust curriculum.

The DoE would “work with the Florida Holocaust Museum and other state or nationally recognized Holocaust educational organizations to develop grade-appropriate curricula, training for instructional personnel, and classroom resources for the instruction required.”

A House companion measure from Rep. Randy Fine (HB 1213) has already cleared its three scheduled committee stops.

The legislation was filed following controversy last year, where former Spanish River High School principal William Latson told a parent, “not everyone believes the Holocaust happened.”

Latson had been asked by a student’s parent in 2018 about the school’s curriculum on the Holocaust. He added, “I can’t say the Holocaust is a factual, historical event because I am not in a position to do so as a school district employee.”

Latson claimed his comments to the parent were “not accurately relayed to the Post and other media outlets.

“It is unfortunate that someone can make a false statement and do so anonymously, and it holds credibility, but that is the world we live in,” he said at the time.

But the situation caused a stir among those who felt more should be done to ensure students are informed about one of the worst atrocities in human history.

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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