November 9, 2017

The Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition (PJC) commends the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Act 70 of 2014 Task Force (comprised of professional educators focused on the Holocaust, genocide and human rights violations) on reaching their goal of having guided over 90% of the Pennsylvania public and charter schools to offer instruction on the Holocaust and related issues in their curriculum. This morning the Pennsylvania Board of Education approved the survey of the state’s public and charter schools, confirming that 90% of these schools are sensitizing students to the Holocaust, genocide and human rights violations through such instruction. The Board likewise made recommendations for the Commonwealth to continue to update resources and training on these subjects.

Act 70 of 2014, sponsored and championed by former House of Representative Majority Education Chairman Paul Clymer, encouraged schools to teach their students about the Holocaust, genocide and human rights violations. Over the past three years, the Pennsylvania Department of Education has worked with the Act 70 Task Force to develop guidelines for schools to teach these subjects, create free resource materials for teachers and offer free training for teachers. The objective of this effort and the work of the Department and Task Force was to create tools and resources to help all school districts teach these subjects effectively, assess schools’ use of these resources, and assure that every school district is offering these subjects to their students.

“Pennsylvania’s Jewish communities applaud Curriculum Adviser Sally Flaherty of the Pennsylvania Department of Education for spearheading the effort to implement this important educational initiative in our schools,” commented Marc Zucker, Chairman of the Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition. “The goal in implementing Act 70 of 2014 was to ensure that Pennsylvania students would receive a solid introduction to the lessons of the Holocaust and its implications for fighting genocide and human rights violations in the future. The guidelines and curricular resources were developed by experts in the field, who also were involved in teacher training. The Act set a goal to have 90% of the schools teaching this course material within three years of its passage. It is laudable that the Commonwealth has exceeded this objective.”

“The PJC is grateful to the Wolf administration for its persistence in implementing Act 70 of 2014 and to the Pennsylvania Board of Education for recommending that resources and training in these areas be updated. We, as a society, need to continue educating our students about crimes against humanity so they will foster tolerance and speak out against bigotry and hatred in all its corrosive forms,” continued Mr. Zucker. “As political philosopher Edmund Burke once wrote, ‘Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.’ With successful legislation such as Act 70, the Commonwealth has demonstrated its commitment to guarding against the repetition of these tragic chapters of world history.”