Holocaust education: now the law of the land … Nu?

The current health crisis regarding the question of the reopening of schools has overshadowed anything having to do with Holocaust education or any other curriculum content.
I have been reading announcements, on and off, since May, when President Trump first signed the Never Again Education Act into law with the support of various Jewish organizations, most recently described in the July/August Hadassah Magazine. I applaud all those voices who spoke in favor of approving funding for the development and distribution of Holocaust education materials for the public schools of the United States.
However, do NOT assume that the proposed production of quality instructional methods and materials, up-to-date, of the highest quality (probably by the Holocaust centers in New York or Washington, D.C.) will be used to the degree to which the bill’s sponsors visualized they would be.
Let me explain with a similar experience I had while teaching American history at Bryan Adams High School in the 1960s-70s.
In the early 1960s when relations between the United States and the Soviet Union were at their lowest and Senator McCarthy was hunting communists with a vengeance during the preceding decade, the Texas State Legislature mandated that high school social studies teachers would teach a unit on the “Evils of Communism.”
I thought that there was a more important lesson to be taught and learned here. I felt that ALL forms of extremism were potentially harmful and evil, both on the extreme left and on the extreme right, which I would illustrate for the students.
I developed a short form letter stating that I was a teacher requesting “free instructional materials to be used in the classroom” which I sent to every appropriate extreme organization I saw listed in a two-volume directory of clubs and organizations in the local library.
I was careful not to choose organizations which I considered inappropriate.
Within a short period of time, I received enough pamphlets, books, posters, records, tape recordings, movie reels, etc., all free, for my students to choose from so that they could work in a group or by themselves to study their information and later, report back to the entire the class as to what “sense” they made of it.
Fast-forward to the present
My point is this. All that this Holocaust education law does is provide funding for the production of instructional materials for use by teachers and or school districts who choose to use them in their classrooms. It does not guarantee that they will be used or how they will be used.
What goes on in the classroom is usually planned by the teacher. There are many demands on the teacher’s time in addition to Holocaust education.
The current virus situation exacerbates and compounds the difficulty of dealing with this instructional issue at the same time as the health issue.
There are more than 13,500 school districts in the United States, 26,407 public secondary schools, etc. Each independent school district will want to do things its way.
At first glance, The Never Again Education Act appears to have lost its practicality. But, perhaps not.
The less affluent school districts will appreciate these modern “free” instructional materials, probably making greater use of them.
Best of all, here is an opportunity for members of Jewish organizations to volunteer at their local schools, “to step up to the plate,” and volunteer to assist with the teacher’s Holocaust unit of instruction as resource assistants if the teacher(s) and principal are open to it.
Finally, someone will have to decide what is to be taught about the Holocaust. What will be the objectives, the content, etc?
The Never Again Education Act may have become a law, but it is only a small part of what it takes for students to learn about the Holocaust.
Having materials available is no guarantee that they will be used.

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