Education

Holocaust Knowledge Fading; Bill Looks to Help Schools Stem the Tide

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Dachau Concentration Camp Credits: Karen E. Hughes
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Dachau Concentration Camp Credits: Karen E. Hughes
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MILLBURN, NJ - On Holocaust Remembrance Day, a newly released study shows that the mantra of "never forget" is fading fast after 70 years. The findings from Schoen Consulting from their February study show that only 41% of Americans know what Auschwitz was and its role in the Holocaust, reports the New York Times.

The article also points out that 31% of Americans believe that two million or fewer died as a result of the Holocaust, where the number is around 6 million. The knowledge gap is especially pronounced among millennials, defined as 18 to 34. However, 93% of respondents believe that Holocaust education is important and should be taught in schools. 

Proposed legislation before the House of Representatives looks to provide grants to continue and enhance Holocaust education. The Never Again Education Act focuses on middle and high schools and would utilize the “Holocaust Education Assistance Program Fund”, which would be fully privately funded to achieve these aims. 

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Sources indicate that both Congressman Leonard Lance (NJ-07), a member of the Taskforce to Combat Antisemitism, and Rodney Frelingheuysen (NJ-11) are supporting the measure.  

A summary of the Never Again Education Act is published below along with a list of those groups or individuals that have endorsed the bill:

H.R. 5460: NEVER AGAIN EDUCATION ACT

Objective: Establish a program at the Department of Education to help more middle and high schools educate their students about the Holocaust. This program will be paid for by private donations.

What the bill does:

 Establishes a federal fund at the Department of Education, the “Holocaust Education Assistance Program Fund”, which will be paid for by private donations. The fund will finance grants to public and private middle and high schools to help teachers develop and improve Holocaust education programs.

 Gives funding directly to teachers to develop individualized programs that best suit their students’ needs.

 Expenses include training for educators, textbooks, transportation and housing for teachers to attend seminars, transportation for survivors to be brought to a school, and field trips.

 Creates a Holocaust Education website as a central hub of resources and best practices for teachers interested in Holocaust education.

 Curriculum experts at the Department of Education will work with trained Holocaust educators to conduct regional workshops that help teachers work within their state and local education requirements to incorporate the sensitive subject of the Holocaust into their classrooms.

 Creates an Advisory Board to help develop the competitive criteria for grants, select the content for the website, and lead fundraising efforts for the program.

 Encourages State education agencies to work with schools and take advantage of the program.

 Prioritizes grants to schools with no current Holocaust education programs.

Benefits:

 Teachers face many barriers to teaching the Holocaust: a lack of awareness of where to find resources, a lack of funding to take advantage of these resources, and a lack of knowledge for how to incorporate the subject into their curriculums. This program will help teachers overcome these barriers at no additional cost to the taxpayer.

 Private Holocaust education centers provide valuable training programs, curriculum and other resources, but are limited to helping the schools in their area. This program will help these centers reach a broader audience, and provide teachers with the tools to educate students in communities across the country.

 This program will finally recognize the importance of Holocaust education at the federal level and teach our children about the valuable lessons from the Holocaust.

Endorsed By: Ameinu, American Jewish Committee (AJC), American Zionist Movement (AZM), Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Association of Holocaust Organizations (AHO) Board of Directors, Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, Baltimore Zionist District, B’nai B’rith International, Florida Holocaust Museum, Hadassah, Holocaust Museum of Houston, Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC-NY), Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), Jewish War Veterans of the USA, Jewish Women International, Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, NA’AMAT USA, National Council of Jewish Women, ORT America, Inc, Religious Action Center, USC Shoah Foundation, Simon Wiesenthal Center, Southern Poverty Law Center, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, WIZO USA Women of Reform Judaism, World Jewish Congress

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