(July 17, 2019 / JNS) Oregon public schools will be required to teach students about the Holocaust and other genocides after Gov. Kate Brown signed on Monday a bill, which unanimously passed in the state legislature, into law.
“Today more than ever, we need the learning opportunities that a bill like this will bring to our schools,” said Brown during the signing ceremony.
The bill was inspired by Claire Sarnowski, 14, of suburban Lake Oswego, who had a close friendship with Holocaust survivor Alter Wiener, who was struck by a car last year and died. The two met four years ago when Sarnowski attended a talk by Wiener about surviving the atrocity.
“Learning about genocide teaches students the ramifications that come with prejudice of any kind in society,” Sarnowski told lawmakers earlier this year.
Effective next year, schools must “prepare students to confront the immorality of the Holocaust, genocide, and other acts of mass violence and to reflect on the causes of related historical events,” in addition to teaching about cultural diversity and stress the need to protect human rights worldwide.
A survey released in April showed that a third of all Americans believe that the scope of the murder of Jews in the Holocaust has been exaggerated. Six million Jews were killed in the genocide.
In addition, 45 percent of Americans could not name any of the 40 ghettos or concentration camps erected by the Nazis, with a whopping 66 percent of millennials being unable to state the significance of “Auschwitz.”
While 93 percent of those polled said they believe students should learn about the Holocaust in schools, 70 percent said people are less concerned about the Holocaust than in the past, and 58 percent said a Holocaust or similar catastrophe could occur again.