"Anyone can go to the Holocaust museum [in Washington DC] but not everyone gets this experience." ~A. Speitel (student, 17)
House Republicans Vote Down Boyle Amendment Requiring Holocaust Education
Harrisburg, June 19th – An amendment by state Rep. Brendan F. Boyle that would have required Pennsylvania schools to teach the Holocaust and other examples of genocide as part of their curriculum was defeated today as the Pennsylvania House, led by the Republican majority, voted down his amendment to HB1424 by a split 99-99 vote. Instead, what passed was weaker legislation which only gave limited direction to Pennsylvania schools that voluntarily choose to teach the subject. According to the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research, five states have enacted laws requiring the teaching of the Holocaust in schools: California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey and New York.
“The failure of the legislature to pass my amendment to require Pennsylvania public schools to teach the history of the Holocaust and other acts of genocide is another example of misplaced priorities. The histories of these events cannot be ignored. If Pennsylvania students are truly to grow into tolerant and worldly citizens equipped with the knowledge and education to prevent future atrocities they must be aware of our human history.” Boyle said. “This nation has always been proud of our ability to lead with a firm understand of world events. As more and more Holocaust survivors pass away we must ensure that their stories and voices remain strong in the mind of Pennsylvania’s students. Knowing our history is the only way to ensure that the mistakes of our past are never repeated.”
During the past three months a large statewide coalition of thousands of individuals from synagogues, Jewish groups, and education organizations including the Anti-Defamation League, the Holocaust Awareness Museum, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, and the Pennsylvania Holocaust Education Council sent thousands of letters and emails as part of an aggressive advocacy campaign targeted at the House Education Committee. These advocates requested that committee members and, in particular, the Democratic and Republican committee chairs, pass the Boyle legislation with its Holocaust and genocide educational requirement intact.
Chuck Feldman, director of the Holocaust Awareness Museum of the Delaware Valley, expressed disappointment in the failure to pass the Boyle amendment. "In the school year about to end, we at Holocaust Awareness Museum of the Delaware Valley sponsored more than 260 survivor programs reaching over 35,000 students, mostly in the five-county Philadelphia area. Reaching 35,000 students is not enough. The Boyle and Williams Holocaust and Genocide education requirement would have provided an opportunity for hundreds of thousands more students throughout the Commonwealth to learn a life lesson that unfortunately is necessary in a world where Holocaust deniers are on the rise."
Brendan F. Boyle is the State Representative for the 170th legislative district in Northeast Philadelphia and Montgomery County. He was elected in 2008 and is currently serving his 3rd term in office. He is a candidate for the Pennsylvania 13th Congressional District.
Mark E. Ladley
Press Secretary, Office of Representative Brendan Boyle