Senate Advances Genocide Education Bill

by | Nov 3, 2021

The Massachusetts State Senate recently passed An Act concerning genocide education to provide education to middle and high school students on the history of genocide and to promote the teaching of human rights issues.

“While the horrors of genocide are difficult and upsetting to discuss, it is necessary to educate our children about this history, so they have knowledge to stand against hate and discrimination,” said Senator Michael Moore (D-Millbury). “As hate seems to be on the rise throughout our nation, we must ensure that the knowledge of the Holocaust and other instances of genocide do not fade away. This is history that cannot be repeated, and it is through education that we can take steps to ensure that it isn’t.”

The bill requires every middle school and high school in the Commonwealth to include instruction on the history of genocide. Similar legislation was advanced by the Senate in prior sessions, but this most recent iteration comes as incidences of hate and anti-Semitism are on the rise across the country, with several incidents reported in Massachusetts over the past year.

In 2020, a widely reported survey commissioned by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, which gauged Holocaust knowledge among millennials and Generation Z populations, found that 63 per cent did not know six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust. The survey also found that nearly half were unfamiliar with Nazi concentration camps like Auschwitz. Massachusetts does not currently require Holocaust education or other genocides as part of classroom curriculum.

This bill would establish a Genocide Education Trust Fund to promote and educate middle and high school students on the history of genocide. Funds in this trust would be used for the instruction of middle and high school students on the history of genocide and ensure the development of curricular materials, as well as to provide professional development training to assist educators in the teaching of genocide.

The bill requires each school district to annually file a description of their lesson plan and programs related to genocide education with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). The bill also establishes a competitive grant program that schools, and districts can apply to for additional programming support.

An Act concerning genocide education now moves to the Massachusetts House of Representatives for consideration.