Gov. Tony Evers signed a bill Wednesday requiring Wisconsin middle and high school social studies classes to teach about the Holocaust and other genocides.
Wisconsin joins 17 other states that require Holocaust education, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. An 18th state, Arkansas, has a law taking effect next year.
“This bill will affect generations of kids in our state and bring increased awareness, and recognition in our schools to the tragedies of the Holocaust, the pervasiveness of anti-Semitism to this day, and hopefully cultivate a generation that is more compassionate, more empathetic, and more inclusive,” Evers said in a statement.
Under the new law, public schools, charter schools and private schools in the voucher program must include instruction on the Holocaust and other genocides at least once between fifth and eighth grade and once in high school.
The law requires the state superintendent to include the Holocaust and other genocides in model academic standards for social studies and to develop model lessons and materials on the subject for teachers. Creating that must be done in consultation with a state agency in another state that has developed such standards, as well as an in-state organization that is dedicated to Holocaust remembrance, education, the preservation of the memory of victims, and that provides free Holocaust education programs.
At least one Wisconsin organization, the Milwaukee Jewish Federation’s Holocaust Education Resource Center, fulfills that requirement, according to the state Department of Public Instruction. Evers, a former state superintendent, signed the bill at the Milwaukee Jewish Federation.
The bipartisan measure passed the Legislature unanimously. No one registered against it and the Wisconsin Catholic Conference, the Wisconsin Council of Churches and the Wisconsin Education Association Council, the state teachers union, registered in support.
Supporters testified that they are troubled with how many younger people are unaware of the scope of the genocide that occurred during World War II, in which the Nazis killed more than six million Jews in Europe.
Backers also pointed to a study released by the Milwaukee Jewish Federation last year that found anti-Semitic incidents increased 55% between 2018 and 2019 and more than tripled since 2015.
While the Holocaust and other genocides are taught in many Wisconsin schools, the new law will ensure there is continuity and consistency in instruction, supporters say.
In Massachusetts, lawmakers this year renewed a push for mandatory genocide education after a high school football coach was fired following reports that the team used anti-Semitic language, including a mention of Auschwitz, in its on-field play-calling.
Fave 5: Barry Adams' picks for 2020
My favorite stories from 2020 include a trip on the Lower Wisconsin River, one of the most spectacular waterways in the country. There was a visit to a monastery in rural Sauk County where the nuns live a life of prayer and bake communion bread while in March we took a family trip to Spring Training in Arizona just prior to the country shutting own. On Memorial Day weekend, I saw first hand the impact of the pandemic on our state's tourism industry with a bleak visit to Wisconsin Dells. Witnessing history is one of the benefits of being a journalist and a November day on Capitol Square found me in the midst of a celebration as Joe Biden was declared the winner of the presidential election. There were so many stories to choose from and others were equally worthy but this is what I'm going with for 2020.
The Lower Wisconsin State Riverway is a 92 mile stretch of water that runs unimpeded from the dam in Prairie du Sac to the Mississippi River. …
For the first time, an order of reclusive nuns in rural Sauk County took part in a tour of art and culture in rural Sauk County. Just a fascin…
A bit of history is made as celebrations erupt on Capitol Square on a picture perfect day after the Associated Press calls the election for Jo…
It was a stark scene in Wisconsin Dells over the Memorial Day weekend as few people visited the popular tourist destination amid the pandemic.…
A family trip to spring training in Arizona came just in time as the shutdowns amid the pandemic began shortly after we returned to Wisconsin.…