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“Which is why when I mentor other states, I say, ‘Here's what we got in PA, but make yours better! ”Fink-Whitman’s video and the efforts in Pennsylvania caught the attention of like-minded parents, activists, professors and others around the country who thought they wanted to see a Holocaust and genocide education requirement in their own states.
She has spoken with folks from more than a dozen states—from Ohio to Oregon, from Texas to Hawaii, from Rhode Island to Michigan. Bitensky, a professor at Michigan State University’s College of Law, saw the mandate video, “I was just horrified at the ignorance,” she tells .
The tax credit scholarship program included in the school funding proposal passed by the General Assembly would be the first of its kind in Illinois, and one of the largest of such programs in the nation.
Every two years, the Council for Economic Education (CEE) conducts a comprehensive look into the state of K-12 economic and financial education in the United States, collecting data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Florida each enacted legislation sometime from 1985 to 1994, but then no state followed suit for two decades—20 years that saw Rwanda, Srebrenica and Sudan.
When Rhonda Fink-Whitman heard about a Holocaust and genocide education bill lingering in Pennsylvania a few years ago, she was shocked to learn that these weren’t already required subjects.
”The resulting video, which she calls “The Mandate Video,” garnered nearly half a million views after it was posted to You Tube in late September 2013 along with a slew of press coverage, all of which helped direct renewed attention to the effort in Pennsylvania.
The state’s original bill, which would mandate Holocaust and genocide education, drew a slate of opponents, some of whom pointed to other state education requirements that were falling by the wayside because of budget cuts.
Armed with a camera, a microphone and a list of questions, she set out to visit a handful of college campuses in her home state of Pennsylvania to see what other kids knew. Parts of this experiment are excruciating to watch, but it’s not their fault, Fink-Whitman tells . “If they’ve never been exposed to this information, how could they possibly know it?
But in June 2014, then-Governor Tom Corbett signed a compromise version of the bill into law, which “strongly encourages school entities in this Commonwealth to offer instruction in the Holocaust, genocide and other human rights violations.” It called on the Department of Education to establish relevant curriculum guidelines within a year of the law taking effect and to provide training programs.
Though it did not immediately require every district to teach these subjects, it calls on the State Board of Education to conduct a study on whether and how schools are including them and to submit a report by November 2017.
If that study demonstrates that less than 90 percent of “school entities” are doing so already, then the Board of Education “shall adopt a regulation…
to require school entities to offer instruction in the Holocaust, genocide and human rights violations.” In other words, the Pennsylvania law effectively ensures that either the vast majority of school entities (more than 90 percent) will be teaching these subjects within two years, or that the strong encouragement will become a requirement.“Our law isn't as strong as we would have liked,” Fink-Whitman says.
“The students who came from states where education on this subject was required seem to have command of the facts, but others are woefully ignorant.”She was inspired to make researching and drafting a bill for Michigan a project of the Lori E.