GLEN COVE, New York (WCBS) — With hate crimes surging in New York, critics say the state is failing to teach students a vital lesson.
The state mandates schools have lessons about the Holocaust, but doesn’t specify what or how much to teach. A group of lawmakers wants that to change, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Thursday.
Swastikas were scrawled on a school in Port Washington this week. A juvenile was arrested and charged.
There were also attacks on synagogues in the Bronx and a youth center was plastered with symbols of hate.
Lawmakers say it’s all evidence that New York schools are doing a bad job at teaching about Holocaust atrocities.
“It is imperative that schools teach the lessons of the Holocaust to ensure students remember the consequences of hate and inaction,” said State Assembly Member Nily Rozic.
Adults under 40 from New York ranked last in a recent survey on Holocaust knowledge. More than half can’t name a single concentration camp. Nearly one-fifth believe Jews caused the Holocaust and nearly a third believe the Holocaust is a myth.
“Having children watch a movie and saying, ‘We’ve done our part,’ is not enough,” said State Senator Anna Kaplan.
New York mandates Holocaust education for age 8 and older, but guidance is vague. It can be one sentence or weeks of discussion.
Sen. Kaplan says there must be a minimum standard curriculum.
“So that the children are actually understanding… and hopefully never repeat it again,” she said.
Lessons that teach tolerance.
“Because an attack on an Asian American is an attack on a Jewish American. An attack on a Jewish American is an attack on a Black or Hispanic American. It all comes from the same place, being able to live with each other,” said State Sen. Todd Kaminsky.
Andrea Bolender wears her father’s concentration camp numbers.
“We see the rise in antisemitism growing and Holocaust denial growing and yet we still have eyewitnesses. So what will happen when we don’t have eyewitnesses?” said Bolender, from the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center.
A similar bill to teach the meaning behind the swastika failed in Albany because it is also a symbol of prosperity in some religions.
The current bill widens the mandate to survey exactly what schools are teaching, because those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.
New Jersey has one of the nation’s strongest mandates to teach Holocaust studies in school. Thirty-four states have no mandate.
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