New education legislation in Michigan is instructing schools to teach about genocide. This includes Holocaust and Armenian Genocide, beginning in 1915. Indeed, on Tuesday, Michigan governor Rick Snyder signed a new law which will require at least six hours of education about genocide at some point between grades 8 and 12.
At the time of signing, Snyder made a statement: “Our next generation of leaders needs to have the wherewithal to recognize and help prevent widespread harm to their fellow men and women. Teaching the students of Michigan about genocide is important because we should remember and learn about these terrible events in our past while continuing to work toward creating a more tolerant society.”
Of course, trying to instigate legislation is one thing, but implementing is another thing entirely. Snyder admits that this is a decision best left to the trained, educational experts in their respective districts.
He goes on to explain “a delicate balance we need to be mindful of when we consider requiring that certain subjects be included in our statewide education system. The recommendations of local school boards, teachers, other professional educators and parents need to be considered when developing a curriculum. My signing of HB 4493 should in no way signal any indication that elected state officials are the best guiding voice on what specific material should be taught in the classroom.”
In addition, Holocaust Memorial Center interim executive director Cheryl Guyer advises that this new law will help to make sure that students are learning critical lessons about these extremely important events throughout history.
She notes, “By educating future generations, our hope is that we prevent atrocities from happening again. These lessons will create empowering actions to combat bullying, hatred, and bigotry. We look forward to working with community leaders and educators throughout the State of Michigan to provide teaching materials and resources about the Holocaust and genocide to schools throughout the state.”
Finally, Snyder concludes by saying that there are, unfortunately, many recorded atrocities that students would benefit from learning about and this new law opens the door for yet more opportunities to teach about these events. Of course, he hopes that this will help future generations to learn about events in history which continue to be pushed further and further into the past and, most importantly, that we will begin to develop a more tolerant and loving society.