NEVER AGAIN STARTS AT SCHOOL: IT'S TIME TO UPDATE THE FLORIDA HOLOCAUST EDUCATIONAL CURRICULUM
By Laurie Cardoza-Moore
Never again starts at school.
Prevention of another Holocaust begins through education.
Once only found on the extreme fringes of society, Holocaust Denial, revisionism and antisemitism have seeped into our communities, houses of worship and sadly even our schools. When the Principal of a public school in Boca Raton told a parent that “not everyone believes the Holocaust happened” it made international headlines and he was relieved of his duties. It also led many parents and school board members to ask how the Nazi’s systematic murder of six million Jews was being taught in our schools.
The K-12 Florida Holocaust Standards are currently under consideration by Florida’s Commissioner of Education, Richard Corcoran. A task force of concerned academics, teachers and parents was tasked by the Florida Department of Education to present Florida’s first set of K-12 Holocaust Standards for adoption in Florida’s classrooms. Those recommendations are currently being accessed and they revolve around two key ideas.
The ideas are simple but profound.
Students' first interaction with Jews or Jewish culture should not be in grade 6 when they first learn about the final solution. Standards that focus on Jews as a hated relic of the past are a recipe to fuel the Jew-hatred of the future.
If students in K-5 are taught about Jewish culture and the impact that the Jewish people have had on our shared history, they will be better served to understand the magnitude of the Shoah. In addition, by demonstrating the unique nature of the Nazi’s war against the Jews, students will be empowered to ensure that Jew-Hatred is eradicated.
The idea that our children’s textbooks contain zero references to living Jews does us a great disservice. Putting faces to the community and building an emotional connection with living Jews during K-5, will enable students to better understand the magnitude of the Holocaust when later taught. This isn’t something new. Other minorities are taught about in this way but sadly living, breathing Jews have disappeared from our textbooks.
The Nazi’s systematic murder of six million Jews was unlike anything else in history. Attempts to universalize the Holocaust or use it as a passing reference to teach about racism and inequality are an insult to the memory of six million Jews. While many atrocities throughout history deserve to be part of the curriculum, they must not be bundled with the Holocaust.
These changes are long overdue and should not be politically sensitive, but sadly many wish to use the Holocaust to push their political agendas instead of preparing our children for a better tomorrow.
As the new Holocaust standards for Florida are being completed, we must hold those preparing and presenting these materials to the highest bar of excellence. Our children’s future depends on it.
As the last living survivors of the Nazi atrocities begin to fade away, we must act now to preserve the true memory of the Holocaust for generations to come. Florida has always led our nation in so many ways. Now is the time for Governor DeSantis to ensure that our Holocaust education is the gold standard for the entire country.
Laurie Cardoza-Moore is the Founder and President of Proclaiming Justice to the Nations
(PJTN). Resource online at www.pjtn.org