DENVER, CO– Today, at Jewish Colorado in Denver, Governor Jared Polis signed into law HB20-1336, sponsored by Representatives Dafna Michaelson Jenet and Emily Sirota and Senators Steve Fenberg and Dennis Hisey. The bill, which passed unanimously in both the Colorado House and Senate, requires high school seniors in public schools to learn about genocide and the Holocaust as a requirement for graduation.
“All Colorado students should graduate with an understanding of the darkest parts of our history so we can work together to stop racism and hatred and ensure that atrocities like the Holocaust never happen again,” said Rep. Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City. “We’ve seen a rise in anti-semitism and racist and bigoted language during this pandemic, and it’s important for all our children to learn how hatred and discrimination can lead quickly to genocide.”
“By requiring Holocaust and genocide studies be taught in public schools, Colorado has taken a critical step to ensure future generations understand the importance of tolerance and inclusivity,” said Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder. “At a time when these principles are most needed, this new law will provide students with opportunities to recognize signs of hate, and ensure that the voices of the survivors of these horrific tragedies are never forgotten.”
“Teaching Holocaust and genocide education is a necessary and difficult conversation that we need to have with our students,” said Rep. Sirota, D-Denver. “Learning about the mass atrocities of the past will help us stop future horrors and injustice and help our high school graduates identify the warning signs that tell us when history is repeating.”
HB20-1336 requires the State Board of Education to adopt standards related to Holocaust and genocide studies. Specifically, it requires that by the 2023-24 school year, local school district boards of education and public charter schools incorporate a Holocaust and genocide studies component into an existing course that is required for graduation. The bill would also create, by 2021, a publicly available educational materials resource bank. The bank will include sample academic content, instruction programs, learning resources, professional educator development materials and case studies related to Holocaust and genocide studies, including but not limited to first-person testimony and materials about the Armenian genocide. Both the standards and resource bank must be developed in accordance with best practices and with input from experts.