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Holocaust Education Bill Passes in Legislature, Awaits Corbett's Signature

June 16, 2014 By:
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Students place flowers in a basket as the names of Holocaust victims are read on Yom Hashoah. The Holocaust and genocide educational legislation aims to make the subjects a part of all Pennsylvania schools' curriculum.

The Holocaust and genocide education bill passed unanimously in the state House on Monday, bringing it one step closer to state law.

The bill passed the House of Representatives with a 197-0 vote. Monday's vote follows last week unanimous passage in the state Senate. The measure now awaits Gov. Tom Corbett's signature, which is expected.

The legislation "strongly encourages" but does not require schools to teach Holocaust curriculum. That had been a sticking point for some Holocaust education advocates, but there appears to be greater consensus in the wake of the bill receiving bipartisan support in the Senate. 

The legislation, initially proposed by Rep. Paul Clymer, a Republican from Bucks County, calls for providing teachers with Holocaust education and training; establishes a statewide study to determine which schools are teaching the Holocaust and calls for the State Department of Education to require schools to offer such instruction if, after two years, fewer than 90 percent of schools are teaching the subject. It also directs the Department of Education to create a statewide curriculum with the help of organizations like the Shoah Foundation. 

Chuck Feldman, president of the Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center at the Klein JCC, had been among those who saw a mandate as essential for the bill to be effective. 

He said that while the museum would have preferred an amendment proposed by another senator that included an upfront requirement for schools, he is satisfied for now. "This was a major step forward and we are very happy that this passed, and we are looking forward to having additional programming based on the fact that schools will now be strongly enouraged to do more Holocaust education."

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