Holocaust education bill amended and must bounce back to House
Magda Bader shares her experience surviving Auschwitz and speaking in support of Lauren Book's Holocaust Education Bill.

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The measure is enjoying bipartisan support.

The Senate unanimously passed a bill on Wednesday requiring Holocaust education in public schools, but not without an amendment.

A Sen. Randolph Bracy amendment would call on the Education Commissioner’s African American History Task Force to recommend ways the history of the Ocoee Massacre can be taught in schools was added, meaning the House will have to vote on it. 

The House bill, by Rep. Randy Fine, was subbed for the essentially identical Senate version from Sen. Lauren Book.

That bill (HB 1213) would require the Florida Department of Education to give schools curriculum standards for teaching the subject in K-12 schools.

It also mandates that every school district and charter school teach students about the state’s policy against anti-Semitism.

The department would have to create a process for schools to annually certify and provide evidence of compliance with the Holocaust instructional requirements.

They may contract with the Florida Holocaust Museum and other state or nationally recognized organizations to develop the curriculum and instructional material.

The legislation was prompted in part by comments made by former Spanish River High School principal William Latson in 2018, who told a student’s parent that he couldn’t state the Holocaust was a “factual, historical event.”

The bill follows legislation sponsored by Fine and Book last year that explicitly targeted anti-Semitism in schools.

That bill was signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in Jerusalem, with members of both parties behind him as he did so. Expect this measure to have that kind of resounding support.

With extremism on the rise, including people of Jewish descent being targeted on streets around the world and the unfurling of a Nazi flag at a Bernie Sanders rally days ago, legislators clearly sense that without a state stand against anti-Semitism, it may be normalized further among some groups.

Auschwitz survivor Magdalen Bader appeared before the Senate earlier this session to make the case for the bill.

Bader was born in Czechoslovakia and survived several concentration camps.

“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.”

Sen. Book, in her close, thanked Senators for listening to her, saying Bader felt honored.

“Florida’s students deserve to learn about history in its totality — the good, the bad, and the very, very ugly. Unless we learn about, and from, our history, we are at risk to repeat it. As legislators and simply as human beings, it is our responsibility to ensure future generations receive Holocaust education — especially after reports of misinformation in Florida public schools. I thank my colleagues for their support of this critical legislation and look forward to Governor DeSantis making this good bill law,” Book added in a statement.

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Florida Politics’ A.G. Gancarski and Ryan Nicol contributed to this post.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


5 comments

  • Alan

    March 10, 2020 at 8:28 pm

    Holocaust education has been an electioneering mainstay for far too many politicians and a source of woe-is-me for some individuals for far too long. It was tragic, but there have been many tragedies throughout history–many that also targetted groups based upon their religion, beliefs, or culture.

    Parents who wish to do so can teach about it at home. Those who lived through it can remember it and mourn, as they see fit. But there is no reason to expend increasingly scarce public funds, and ever-diminishing school hours on it. Formalized Holocaust education should, in fact, cross the finish line and end.

  • Charlotte Greenbarg

    March 11, 2020 at 1:47 pm

    The dismissive, hate and lie filled comments from “Alan” and John K. show clearly the need for Holocaust education

    John K. sounds like he’s ready to start killing. Needs to be looked at closely.

  • Alan

    March 11, 2020 at 5:50 pm

    Charlotte–Your vociferousness is admirable, to a point.

    That said, you need to be a bit more accepting of positions with which you might disagree. That’s not to say that you should embrace, nor even find acceptable John K’s rant (which, I’m sure even he will admit is far more conspiratorial than factual, if factual at all).

    Like many people, often who are members of self-conscious minorities, you take yourself and that of your group (if any), much too seriously.

    Take a deep breath. Relax. Use your energy to help someone who is genuinely in need. You’ll feel better about yourself and the other person is likely to appreciate what you do for them. Don’t waste your energy by thrusting yourself into the spotlight for your own sake. There are far too many politicians available for that.

    • Charlotte Greenbarg

      March 12, 2020 at 7:55 am

      Oh so clever of you to try to deflect from your cold dismissal of atrocities committed upon minorities. By doing that you further reveal, in your own words, the banality of evil.

      • James Alexander

        March 12, 2020 at 1:24 pm

        I would not say his comment was a deflection, but I guess that shows my own ignorance? To you it probably does. I agree that the focus on the Holocaust is not needed sine there have been much worse genocides throughout history and we give scant focus if any at all, why does “Gods chosen” get special treatment, further more we Americans took no part in atrocities that were reported to have happened, so why the large focus? I do know that an unfortunately large percentage of the Jewish population think Remembering the Holocaust is a big part of being Jewish, I assume you fall into that category ma’am, and seeing as how there are may Jews in highly influential areas with in our system, banking, entertainment, and politics. All of that could in fact play a role in why the american students are forced to waist valuable learning time to focus on this. But who really knows.

Comments are closed.


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