State lawmakers on Thursday called for a strengthening of education about the Holocaust in New York amid an alarming rise in younger people believing false information about the genocide.
The bill comes as misinformation online can spread rapidly as well, and amid a growing concern over hate crimes directed at Jewish people in New York and around the country.
The measure, backed by Sen. Anna Kaplan and Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, would have the State Education Commission study which school districts are offering Holocaust instruction that's in compliance with state law, require a report on the findings of the study by the start of the new year and have education officials develop rules and regulations to ensure it is being taught properly.
"We're doing a terrible job of teaching our kids about the atrocities of the Holocaust and the 6 million Jews who were murdered by the Nazis, and in a time when disinformation is exploding, and anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic violence are on the rise, it's never been more important to teach the lessons of the Holocaust to the next generation," Kaplan said in a statement. "I'm proud to partner with Assemblywoman Nily Rozic on legislation that will assess how well schools are doing at educating our kids about the Holocaust, and come up with a plan to ensure that every child is learning about our history in every school across the state. It's never been more important than it is today, and we need to get it done this year."
The bill was proposed after a study by the non-profit Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany found 58% of New York adults under 40 cannot name a concentration camp; 19% believe Jews were the cause of the Holocaust and 28% believe the Holocaust is a myth or has been exaggerated.
"As we experience historic levels of anti-Semitism in New York and around the country, 'Never Again' needs to be a call to action and not merely a platitude offered on Holocaust Remembrance Day and Genocide Awareness Month,” Rozic said. "When study after study delineate embarrassing ignorance and misinformation about the Holocaust, we need to rectify the issue at the source — educational requirements. Ensuring that the Holocaust is properly taught in schools coupled with education on recognizing anti-Semitism and other hate crimes is a crucial first step in stopping dangerous conspiracy theories."