Assembly Passes Holocaust Education Bill
MADISON – Today, the State Assembly passed Assembly Bill 816 (AB 816), authored by Representatives Jon Plumer (R-Lodi) and Lisa Subeck (D-Madison) and Senators Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield). AB 816 requires instruction on the Holocaust and other genocides be incorporated into the social studies curriculum at least once in grades 5 to 8 and at least once in grades 9 to 12 by public school districts, independent charter schools, and private schools participating in a parental choice program.
“As a teenager I had the opportunity to meet Holocaust survivors and interview them as part of a Jewish youth group project. They shared survival stories that were nothing short of heroic but also filled with tragedy and loss,” said Rep. Subeck. “As the number of Holocaust survivors shrinks, it is incumbent upon us to ensure their plight is never forgotten and the unforgivable events of the past never happen again.”
In a recent poll, 22% of millennials said they had never heard of the Holocaust, double the percentage of American adults who said the same. Additionally, two-thirds of American millennials surveyed in 2018 could not identify the historical significance of Auschwitz.
A 2019 audit by the Milwaukee Jewish Federation revealed a staggering 329% increase Anti-Semitic incidents in Wisconsin since 2015. More than a quarter of all recorded anti-Semitic incidents in Wisconsin during this timeframe took place among students or on campus.
“In this era of growing divisiveness and increasing anti-Semitic activity, it is time to add Wisconsin to a growing list of states requiring Holocaust education,” said Rep. Subeck. “Knowing and understanding the history of the Holocaust and other genocides is vital to ensuring we never repeat these atrocities.”
The Wisconsin-based Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center (HERC) has made a commitment to the state to provide materials and support at no additional cost to schools. Members and supporters of HERC attended a hearing in large numbers last week to show their support of the bill.
“Thank you to the Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center for their commitment to ensuring the Holocaust is never forgotten and never repeated,” said Rep. Subeck. “I am hopeful the Senate will quickly follow suit by passing AB 816 and sending it to Governor Evers’s desk for his signature.”
Representative Lisa Subeck is one of three Jewish legislators in the Wisconsin State Legislature and serves on the board of the National Association of Jewish Legislators.