Florida Statute 1003.42 (2)(g)–that passed in 1994–is an important message for our community and should be taught in all publicly funded schools:
(g)1. The history of the Holocaust …[must] 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,—
Please ask your representative to suggest changing this part of HB 51
71 (1) Beginning in the 2023-2024 school year, the department
72 shall annually verify that each school district, charter school,
73 and private school [that receives voucher money] implements the instruction required under s.
74 1003.42(2)(g) and (h), relating to the history of the Holocaust
75 and the history of African Americans, efficiently and faithfully
in such a way that students are encouraged to understand the ramifications of prejudice, stereotyping and racism. If we truly want to educate our next generation to understand the evils of hatred, as exposed during the Holocaust, so that history does not repeat itself, we must address the universal lessons,
The necessity for the additional clause and line is because the standards passed by the state Board of Education in June 2021 don’t emphasize the original goal of 1003.42(2)(g). Excerpts from this Orlando Sentinel article:
Experts tapped by the state to help write or review new Holocaust standards say Florida’s proposal fails to connect the horrors of the Holocaust to lessons that would encourage today’s students to understand the “ramifications of prejudice, stereotyping and racism.” That failure is a violation of the state’s nearly 30-year-old Holocaust education law, they say, and undermines the work of longtime Holocaust educators. “Any legitimate Holocaust education expert” would advise that students learn what happened from 1933-45 and about antisemitism and also be encouraged “to make connections between the past and their own roles and responsibilities today,” wrote Yael Hershfield, interim regional director of the Anti-Defamation League Florida, in a June 11 letter to Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran. “If we truly want to educate our next generation to understand the evils of hatred, as exposed during the Holocaust, so that history does not repeat itself, as it did in Rwanda and other genocides, we must address the universal lessons,” Hershfield added.
Oren Stier, a professor of religious studies and director of the Holocaust and genocide studies program at Florida International University, says PJTN should never have been consulted, a view shared by other state experts. Laurie Cardoza-Moore, PJTN president, said the Holocaust should be taught without “universalizing” it. Cardoza-Moore said, “If you’re going to talk about the Holocaust you don’t bring in racism or xenophobia or all these other issues.” But other experts disagree. The Holocaust Memorial Resource & Education Center in Maitland, for example, founded by a Holocaust survivor from Poland, says its mission is to “use the history and lessons of the Holocaust to build a just and caring community free of antisemitism and all forms of prejudice and bigotry.”
Our country is based on wonderful ideals: liberty and justice for all, equal opportunities for the pursuit of happiness, freedom to practice your religion, and freedom from the brutalities of other people’s religions. Publicly funded education that teaches those ideals is one way to get closer to achieving them.
Link to bill: