Legislation Strongly Encouraging Holocaust Education in Washington
RCW 28A.300.115 and 116 (Passed April 19, 2019)
After unanimously passing the Senate and the House, Holocaust Education Bill SB5612 was signed by Governor Jay Inslee Friday, April 19, 2019. This bipartisan bill, the result of a partnership between the Holocaust Center for Humanity and the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, is a significant step towards ensuring that every student in our state has access to quality Holocaust education. The bill has been codified as law in two statutes, RCW 28A.300.115 and 116.
“In addition to this study being a reaffirmation to never again permit such occurrences, studying this material is intended to examine the ramifications of prejudice, racism, and intolerance and prepare students to be responsible citizens in a pluralistic democracy." – RCW 28A.300.115
This Holocaust education law has created a partnership between the Holocaust Center for Humanity and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). Together, we:
- Developed best practices and guidelines for teaching about the Holocaust and genocide;
- Are conducting statewide professional development for educators, teaching them how to apply these new standards;
- After two years, at the end of the 2022 school year, our Center will report on the effectiveness of this legislation and make recommendations for the future of Washington State Holocaust education.
Is the Holocaust now mandatory to teach in Washington State?
No, not yet. RCW 28A.300.115 states, “Every public middle school, junior high school, and high school is strongly encouraged to include in its curriculum instruction on the events of the period in modern world history known as the Holocaust, the systematic, German state-sponsored persecution and murder of Jews and other innocent victims by the Nazi regime and its collaborators between the years 1933 – 1945.“
What does this law do?
“Beginning September 1, 2020, middle, junior high, and high schools offering this instruction must follow the best practices and guidelines that are developed.” This bill reiterates the importance and value of Holocaust education in all middle and high schools. It also creates a required set of guidelines and best practices for educators offering Holocaust education and provides professional development opportunities throughout the state for teaching the Holocaust. Look for upcoming workshops in your area and through your school district and at www.HolocaustCenterSeattle.org.
- September 2019-August 2020 – The Holocaust Center for Humanity and OSPI developed guidelines and best practices for teaching the Holocaust in Washington State. Workshops and professional development opportunities are offered throughout Washington to introduce these new guidelines and best practices, provide information on how to access resources, and support educators who are teaching about the Holocaust.
- Starting September 2020 –Educators teaching the Holocaust are required to follow the guidelines and best practices as set by the Holocaust Center for Humanity and OSPI. Workshops and professional development opportunities will continue to be offered throughout the state. 1:1 consulting is available to support teachers through the Holocaust Center for Humanity.
- July 2022 – November 2022 – The best practices and guidelines will be reevaluated along with the impact of this legislation. At that time a mandate for Holocaust education in all Washington State middle and high schools will be considered.
Is there a set curriculum that I need to teach?
No. The Holocaust Center for Humanity, in partnership with OSPI, has created guidelines and best practices. These include a wide variety of lesson plans targeted to different grade levels and subjects, and flexibility for teachers to tailor lessons to their needs. There are even proposed outlines for teaching about the Holocaust, no matter how much time you have, what grade level, and for both Social Studies and English Language Arts. The Holocaust Center for Humanity already has numerous programs and resources in place to support teachers, including 1:1 consultation to help teachers develop lessons and units that fit their classroom’s needs and goals.
How can the Holocaust Center for Humanity help me?
The Holocaust Center for Humanity has many free programs and resources including Holocaust Teaching Trunks; a Speakers Bureau (remote and in-person); a museum (with scholarships for field trips -- virtual and in-person); an annual Writing, Art and Film Contest; and professional development throughout the year. The Holocaust Center also offers experienced staff to assist teachers with planning their units and lessons and offer suggested resources and activities. Visit www.HolocaustCenterSeattle.org to learn more.
How can I support the teachers in my school/district?
Which states mandate teaching the Holocaust in schools?
As of May 2021: Arizona, Arkansas (effective 2022), California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin.
I have more questions – who should I contact?