HARTFORD – On April 24, members of the Connecticut Senate unanimously approved legislation to require Holocaust and genocide education in Connecticut high schools starting in the 2018-19 school year. The bill will now move to the House for its vote.
“I am so excited by today’s vote,” read a statement released by Sen. Toni Boucher (R-26), who serves as co-chair of the legislature’s Education Committee and was one of the legislators instrumental in the passage of Senate Bill 452, An Act Concerning The Inclusion Of Holocaust And Genocide Education And Awareness In The Social Studies Curriculum.
“I’m excited and I’m inspired by the great level of support I have received for this bill from people, from the Jewish Federation Association of Connecticut, and so many others throughout the state. I have been working on this issue with my Jewish colleagues for several years. This definitely is legislation whose time has come,” the statement read.
Boucher attributed the dramatic rise in antisemitic incidents in Connecticut among students to a lack of education.
“So many of our young students don’t have any knowledge at all of Holocaust and the terrible things that happened to people simply because of their religion,” she said. “But the history of the Holocaust isn’t only about the torture and murder and unspeakable horror. It is also about lessons of resilience and courage that can inspire people.”
Boucher said the requirement does not represent a cost for school districts because various foundations and nonprofits have offered materials and funding.
“People ask why an Italian immigrant, a Roman Catholic, would be so passionate about an issue that doesn’t really affect me,” she said. “I am the daughter of a soldier who fought in World War II and my family owned a farm in Italy that was taken over by the Nazis. They did unspeakable things to my aunt and cousins.”
Boucher said because her father would never talk about the war, she was driven to learn about what happened and was horrified by what she found. As she grew up, she was disappointed to learn people still discriminated against people who were Jewish.
Boucher said she hopes the bill receives the same level of support in the House that it received in the Senate.
“Alan Lazowski said that it is only through education that we can teach our students to ‘never forget.’ We must all remember that the past informs our present and provides priceless guideposts for our future,” she said.