HB 51

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

by adding

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: 

https://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Bills/billsdetail.aspx?BillId=73071&SessionId=93

How Do We Prevent Hate Crimes?

Did you know that all publicly funded schools are not required to obey the following two Florida statutes dealing with nondiscrimination and tolerance? Currently only the district-run schools are required to follow both.

**Excerpt from f.s.1000.05—
Discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability, religion, or marital status against a student or an employee in the state system of public K-20 education is prohibited.

**Excerpt from f.s. 1003.42 (g)—
[a required course that will teach] …… 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.

There are two bills before our Florida Senate (with companion bills in the House) that will help correct the problem:

**SB 184 (HB 91) will make clear that f.s. 1003.42(g) must apply to charter schools and private schools receiving voucher money in addition to the district run schools.

**SB 56 (HB 45) will make clear that private schools can’t receive voucher money if they discriminate against the minorities mentioned in f.s. 1000.05.

Our state Constitution requires free public schools for the children of Florida, but our elected officials are not consistent with what they mean by “public schools.” Many of our laws defined the rules for “public schools” at a time when the term meant only the neighborhood schools. If our Florida Legislature is going to continue to give our taxpayer dollars to charter schools and private schools, then those schools need to be required to follow the same nondiscrimination laws that our neighborhood schools must follow.

The organization that administers Florida’s growing array of voucher programs — Step Up For Students — insists it has no legal basis to deny voucher money to private schools that discriminate against minority groups.

SB 56 will give Step-Up-For-Students the legal basis to deny voucher money to private schools that discriminate against the minority groups mentioned in f.s. 1000.05.

A Florida statute— 1002.33 (16)—already demands charter schools follow the nondiscrimination statute. In other words, SB 56 will make it so all publicly funded schools are forbidden from discriminating against the minority groups mentioned in f.s. 1000.05.

Florida Education Commissioner Corcoran in his letter to a superintendent about the teaching of the Holocaust mentioned “public schools” twice. His letter was concerning f.s. 1003.42 (g). The way I read his letter, he thinks it is an important course. However, f.s. 1003.42 (g) only applies to the district-run schools. SB 184 (if it passes) will require any school receiving public funds to follow f.s. 1003.42(g).

If legislators are going to continue to use your tax dollars to fund charter schools and private schools, then those schools need to follow the same nondiscrimination laws that neighborhood schools must follow. The nondiscrimination laws should apply to all publicly funded schools.

References and suggestions for further reading

Ref 1 Article IX in Florida’s Constitution
http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?submenu=3#A9

Excerpt:  The education of children is a fundamental value of the people of the State of Florida. It is, therefore, a paramount duty of the state to make adequate provision for the education of all children residing within its borders. Adequate provision shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education

Ref 2 Articles about how private schools receiving taxpayer funded vouchers discriminate.
https://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/editorials/os-op-florida-vouchers-disciminate-gay-students-20190706-3qbgvqro6jcd7of6hf4c4b3eim-story.html

https://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/scott-maxwell-commentary/os-op-florida-voucher-schools-disability-discrimination-scott-maxwell-20190806-rhcz7qtgufamnd7zwrogqloebe-story.html

Ref 3 Corcoran’s letter about the Holocaust course

http://www.fldoe.org/core/fileparse.php/35/urlt/HolocaustLetter-July2019.pdf

Ref 4 Articles about the necessity for teaching the Holocaust

https://www.adl.org/blog/empowering-educators-to-discuss-hard-topics

https://florida.adl.org/news/adl-trains-south-palm-beach-county-principals-with-multimedia-holocaust-curriculum/

http://www.flHolocausteducationtaskforce.org/classroom-resources/

Ref 6 Quote from article: “The medical community has long concluded that homosexuality is largely genetically-driven, not a matter of choice.”

https://floridapolitics.com/archives/302854-draft-for-monday-push-on-to-ban-conversion-therapy-in-orange-county

Ref 7 HB 741 passed last legislative session unanimously. The discussion of the bill called antisemitism discussed the teaching of the holocaust. It also added religion to the list in f.s. 1000.05.

https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2019/00741

Ref 8 Florida’s Tax Credit Scheme allows some businesses to divert dollar for dollar their tax liability money to a private school. Read more:

https://www.tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook/2019/02/15/gov-ron-desantis-reveals-plan-to-eliminate-scholarship-wait-list/

Ref 9 More about HB 91 and SB 184:

https://www.gainesville.com/opinion/20190917/editorial-expand-study-of-holocaust-to-all-schools

Ref 10 Quote from MOSH curator Paul Bourcie:
“…We’re seeing domestic terrorism happening to all kinds of people branded as the Other. We see systems in place that put certain communities at a disadvantage. Can it be that we’re looking at something systemic that hearkens back to the racial violence of the past?”
http://folioweekly.com/stories/warts-all,21834