Bill to Fund Holocaust Education Introduced in Congress

NEW YORK -

A bill that would grant funding to schools across America for Holocaust education was introduced by a bipartisan group of congressional representatives.

If passed, the legislation would create a fund within the Department of Education that would provide grants to both public and private middle and high schools to help teachers develop and supplement programs for teaching students about the Holocaust. The fund will be supported exclusively by private donors, without any contributions from taxpayer dollars.

The bill’s lead sponsor is Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, a Democrat who represents the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Roosevelt Island, Greenpoint and East Williamsburg and several neighborhoods in western Queens. She announced the legislation on Tuesday, citing historical distance as the impetus for the legislation.

“For far too many in this country, the memory of the Holocaust is fading, and we need to do all we can to ensure that people never forget those atrocities,” said Rep. Maloney. “As the saying goes, if we do not learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it. That is why I am proud to announce the ‘Never Again Education Act.’ This bipartisan legislation gives our teachers what they need to teach the Holocaust accurately and effectively. We know that hate is learned. Our children are not born with prejudices, and it is up to us to make sure they never learn them.”

The bill would create the Holocaust Education Assistance Program Fund, which would give funding directly to educators and schools to allow them to customize programs for their students’ needs. Grants can be used for textbooks, expenses for teachers to attend seminars, transportation for survivors to speak at schools, and field trips. The Department of Education would be authorized to work with Holocaust educators to conduct workshops for teachers across the country. Grants will give priority to schools that do not currently have programs geared specifically to teach about the Holocaust.

An expressed goal of the legislation is to help link educators who lack resources with existing Holocaust education organizations who can assist them in designing curriculums that will increase knowledge and awareness of Nazi genocide.

Also sponsoring the bill are Congressmen Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), Kay Granger (R-Tex.) Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), and Dan Donovan (R-N.Y.).

Eight states, including New York, require schools to include Holocaust education as part of their curriculum, and another 12 states recommend it to schools — yet few provide funding for the development of programs. Rep. Maloney has introduced versions of this legislation since 1999, but it has yet to become law.

In response to an inquiry from Hamodia, Congresswoman Maloney explained her decision to re-introduce the bill. “I have been introducing a Holocaust education bill since 1999. With the recent uptick in anti-Semitic hate crimes and bigoted attacks across the country, I was hopeful that this time around we could generate strong bipartisan support to address such an important issue. This is just the latest push to get this program started.”

Mrs. Ruth Lichtenstein, founder and director of Project Witness, welcomed the legislation’s introduction.

“Through a variety of educational and community initiatives, Project Witness and its Holocaust Resource Center are dedicated to transmitting to future generations the history and the spiritual courage of the Six Million Jews who perished in the Holocaust,” she said. “Therefore, it is with great appreciation that Project Witness supports the initiative of Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney as she pursues passage of the Never Again Education Act. We wish the Congresswoman much success in her worthy endeavor to stem the growth of hate and prejudice.”