A bill to “fill the Holocaust education gap” in schools introduced by state Sen. Henry Stern, D-Calabasas, passed out of the Senate Appropriation Committee last week.
The proposed legislation would create the Governor’s Council on Genocide and Holocaust Education “to develop best practices to facilitate the instruction on genocide and the Holocaust” as well as identifying resources and programs to train educators on teaching the subjects.
If created, the Governor’s Council would bring together “leading experts on teaching about crimes against humanity, genocide and the Holocaust,” according to a statement released by Stern’s office.
The Never Again Education Act, or Senate Bill 693, would “provide resources offering new teaching methods and enhanced resources for teachers and students to counter a recent rise in acts of hate, bigotry, and anti-Semitism across our country and embrace the importance of diversity, human rights, and the roles and responsibilities of citizens in democratic societies to combat misinformation, indifference and discrimination,” the statement continued.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond sponsored the bill, which aligns with his “Education to End Hate” initiative launched in late 2020 to award grants, partner with community leaders and hold virtual classroom sessions about “(leveraging) the power of education to create a more just society.”
“It is not enough for us to say ‘never forget’ genocide or the experience of the Holocaust, but what we need to realize is that there is an interconnectivity that we all experience and that, with the right information and tools, we can and we must address hate wherever and whenever it occurs,” Thurmond said in a prepared statement.
Santa Clarita Mayor Pro Tem Laurene Weste sent Stern a personal letter supporting the legislation.
“I believe he has done something that is very critical for our youth and the future generations to be taught the history of the Holocaust as part of school curriculum,” said Weste, who plans to share graphics documenting the Holocaust that she picked up when she visited the Auschwitz concentration camp as a college student. “It’s important that our children and our future know what can happen and how they can prevent the horrors and abuse of any group of people being targeted.”
Following a third reading on the floor of the state Senate, SB 693 will be put to a vote of the full Senate. The Senate completed the bill’s second reading on Monday.