CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The Jewish Federations of South Carolina is worried that pending statewide educational reform bills could put an end to the teaching of the Holocaust in public schools.
There are five pending pieces of state legislation that could change how students learn history in South Carolina.
“This legislation is written in a way that it would impede the ability to teach about the Holocaust,” Natanya Miller, director of educational initiatives at the Charleston Jewish Federation, said. “There’s so many facets of the Holocaust that are important to discuss that we’d no longer be able to.”
A group of organizations published a letter of concern on February 15, which has since gone viral on Facebook.
“We’re worried that we won’t be doing our next generation justice if we don’t teach them a full and unvarnished version of our local history,” Charleston Jewish Federation’s director of community relations Brandon Fish said. “As well as, the history of the Holocaust.”
The Charleston Jewish Federation says they believe proper education is the solution to counter hatred and bigotry in society.
“As an organization,” Fish said. “We’re often responding to incidents of antisemitism or hate in our local school systems and the best way to respond to those incidents is not necessarily just through punitive action, but through education.”
The organization says there are three universal lessons that can be learned from the Holocaust.
“Democracy is fragile,” Miller said. “This is not a perfect system that we have. We need to be working together to ensure it. That we need to respect each other. We need to respect our differences, we need to honor those differences. If we teach that everyone is the same, if we never make anyone uncomfortable, we never have the opportunity to learn and to grow. And then, understanding that prejudice can lead to other places.”
The Charleston Jewish Federation says now they plan to reach out to as many state legislators as possible to voice their concerns.
More information on about the Charleston Jewish Federation can be found here.