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Arizona education board makes Holocaust learning requirement

October 27, 2020 GMT

PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona State Board of Education has voted to make learning about the Holocaust and other genocides a requirement for middle and high school students across the state, mirroring proposed legislation that failed.

The board has added these subjects to the minimum course of study and competency goals and graduation requirements for Arizona students, KJZZ-FM reported.

Previously, these subjects were part of the board’s History and Social Science standards.

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“We don’t have that much time left with our Holocaust survivors and to do something like this to enshrine their powerful message — both of history and what happened — but also of hope to making sure that it never happens again, I think is one of the most important things that the board can do,” Democratic state Rep. Aaron Lieberman said at the board meeting Monday.

The House bill, sponsored in part by Lieberman, was introduced earlier this year but didn’t go anywhere after the Legislative session was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Esther Basch, a Holocaust survivor, and her daughter Rachel Basch Turet told the board that many of the people they speak with know about World War II, but have no idea of “the extent of horrors that happened to the Jews in Europe.”

“We’ve received a lot of letters from high school students saying how grateful they are for mom to tell her story and even have made promises that they would never let something like this happen again,” Basch Turet said. “But in order to have that mindset ... first (they) have to know what it is that they’re not going to let happen again.”

Basch Turet said Holocaust education will teach students to have empathy for other people.