State Rep. Brendan Boyle, (D-Montgomery/Phila) has re-introduced HB 176, The Holocaust/Genocide Education Mandate, requiring Pennsylvania public and private schools provide age-appropriate instruction for grades 6-12 on the Holocaust and other modern genocides.
“Knowing our history is the only way to ensure that the mistakes of our past are never repeated,” Boyle said. “The lessons learned from the atrocities committed during the Holocaust and other genocides must be used as an example of how it is essential to exercise tolerance and compassion. My legislation will ensure that Pennsylvania students are provided with this valuable and important message.”
A large statewide coalition of thousands of individuals from synagogues, Jewish groups, and education organizations including the Anti-Defamation League, the Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, and the Pennsylvania Holocaust Education Council have begun sending thousands of letters and emails as part of an aggressive advocacy campaign targeted at the House Education Committee. These advocates are requesting that committee members and, in particular, the Democratic and Republican committee chairs, allow HB 176 to be considered for a vote. Clearing this important hurdle would represent a big step toward final passage of the legislation.
In addition to the letter writing and advocacy campaign, a dozen leadership members of supporting organizations spent April 8th in Harrisburg speaking to Republican and Democrat members of the House Education Committee. A series of successful meetings resulted in commitments from several Education Committee members to support passing the legislation. Their trip coincided with the international Holocaust Awareness Day and Harrisburg’s annual Holocaust Awareness Day Ceremony. One of the individuals, Holocaust survivor David Tuck, undertook a two hour drive to Harrisburg in order to support HB176 and participate in that solemn ceremony.
Rabbi David Strauss, Chairman of the Jewish Community Relations Council, and Adam Kessler, Director, released a statement supporting the legislations passage. “The Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia-an organization that has taught students the lessons of the Holocaust for more than four decades-stands solidly behind The Holocaust and Genocide Education Bill, House Bill 176. We believe that this legislation will afford middle and high school students that opportunity to learn that democratic institutions and values need to be protected.”