Proposed Holocaust Curriculum Mandate in CT

According to an article in the Hartford Courant published March 31, 2018, recent legislation proposed in the state of Connecticut may mandate Holocaust education in school curriculum. The article states that it would most likely be included in high school social studies curriculum. The article describes the legislations desire to educate students on genocide and how such crimes can come about and also goes through education advocate’s opposition to mandating specific curriculum.

Reading this article, my first question was, why now? What is it about 2018, over 70 years after the Holocaust that would lead Rep. Andy Fleischmann, D-West Hartford and other legislators to propose this bill. Providing some answer for this, the article includes Fleischmann’s quote that “there are ‘individuals who try to deny that the Holocaust or other genocides ever happened,’ as well as ‘young people who who just haven’t received any education about it and will not know about it if it’s not included in the social studies curriculum.’”

When looking at how the Holocaust is represented in the U.S., this article made me wonder what the Holocaust education what look like in classrooms and what it would include. Since there is not a currently a requirement in the state of Connecticut, I wonder if they will base the curriculum after a different state with a program already in place. In addition, it begs the question, what materials will teachers use to educate students on this topic and how effective will they be? For example, will they use Anne Frank or The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, works that have been criticized for for softening the Holocaust and providing the audience with a positive, redemptive ending?

Interestingly, the article also discusses how education advocates oppose and disapprove of the mandate. One advocate in particular from the Connecticut Association for Boards of Education, who argues that “including such specific curriculum requirements in state statutes is not appropriate” and asks “‘By omitting some topics, does that mean they are less important?'” Michigan legislation, for example, mandates education of the Armenian Genocide in addition to the Holocaust. This requirement was not specifically outlined in the article. This question is an important one as it highlights the difficulty in remembering and representing these parts of history and the question over inclusivity.

Link to Hartford Courant Article : http://www.courant.com/education/hc-legislators-curriculum-mandates-20180329-story.html

Link to MI Legislation-Mandated Holocaust Curriculum: http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(rb2wqp2ifq2zzunukgovufvq))/mileg.aspx?page=getObject&objectName=mcl-380-1168

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