Holocaust Education Bill Passes Oregon Legislature

state capitol oregon

Legislation requiring Oregon’s school districts to teach students about the Holocaust and genocide unanimously passed the Oregon House of Representatives Monday.

Senate Bill 664 adds specific references to the Holocaust and genocide to recently updated social studies standards for high school students.

“As we lose our lived history from that era, it becomes even more important to have holocaust and genocide education in our classrooms. This bill is about keeping history alive,” said Rep. Janeen Sollman, a chief sponsor of the legislation. “This legislation is about ensuring that our students learn about our true history, learn to appreciate and understand our survivors’ stories, and continue to tell those stories to prevent such actions again.”

The Oregon Department of Education will provide technical assistance to school districts in implementing the curriculum. Oregon will join 10 other states that require some level of Holocaust and genocide education in classrooms.

The idea for the legislation was first brought forward by Claire Sarnowski, a 13-year-old Lake Oswego student at the encouragement of holocaust survivor Alter Wiener. Wiener died in a tragic accident late last year. He was honored by the Oregon Legislature with House Concurrent Resolution 17.

“Alter’s dream was to mandate education which would continue the legacy of the Holocaust and genocides,” Sarnowski said in public testimony. “Although he is not here with me today, he prepared me to carry on this mission and to persevere in making this a reality… We need to ensure these atrocities are never forgotten nor ignored.”

Sen. Rob Wagner (D-Lake Oswego), Sen. James Manning (D-Eugene) and Sen. Dallas Heard (R-Roseburg) all joined Rep. Sollman as chief sponsors. A bipartisan group of 38 House and Senate members signed on as sponsors.

The legislation now goes to Gov. Kate Brown.

Source: Oregon House Democrats

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