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January 28, 2014 By:
Holocaust Education Advocates Lobby Senators in Harrisburg
To push for the passage of Holocaust education legislation in the State Senate, a group of survivors, Jewish war veterans, teachers and advocates traveled Jan. 27 from Philadelphia to Harrisburg.
They would like to see the bill, which passed the House in May, win Senate approval in its current form, which includes an amendment mandating Holocaust and genocide education as part of public school curriculum for grades six through 12. The question of whether the legislation should include a mandate has split supporters.
Rhonda Fink-Whitman, a Holocaust education advocate who has maintained that a mandate is essential to the bill, said she and about 25 supporters left the Klein JCC early in the morning on International Holocaust Remembrance Day and met with each of the 49 senators or one of their staff members.
“We feel that going there yesterday really put a face on the issue for them and made a huge difference,” said Fink-Whitman. “When you take a day off work and you take a hit in your pocket book, that showed them that this is important enough to us to do all that.”
Others have argued that while the bill could pass the Senate, it will collapse if returned to the House, in part because the state, according to the Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition’s research, has never passed such a course curriculum mandate. They say a bill that does not include a mandate but provides schools with state funding for Holocaust education and includes recommendations for curriculum would still be effective.