Kentucky public schools to make Holocaust studies mandatory after Catholic teacher convinces lawmakers

Public schools in Kentucky will be required by law to teach lessons about the Holocaust to students following the passing of a Senate bill that is expected to have the governor's approval.

(Wikimedia Commons/Bangin)Holocaust studies will be introduced in Kentucky's public schools.

Senators voted 37-0 on the bill dubbed as the Ann Klein and Fred Gross Holocaust Education Act this week after the House approved the resolution in February. The stipulations in the bill will make Holocaust and other issues of genocide, based on the guidelines from the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, a part of the curriculum in middle and high school.

In previous years, Kentucky set a curriculum in place for Holocaust studies pending an approved bill. Once Gov. Matt Bevin signs this into a law, the state will join California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island with such a curriculum in public schools.

Educator Fred Whitaker, who teaches religion and science at the St. Francis Assisi School, has been advocating for Holocaust studies for 13 years. Lawmakers sought his help in crafting the bill and he also involved his students in the process.

They went to testify at the committee hearings and deliberations of the bill in the House and Senate. The students' parents also got involved in making sure that the bill receives the votes via awareness campaigns on social media and their communities.

"Every year, there's been some sort of activity where we have tried make legislators aware, the community aware, our peers aware," the teacher told the press. "Awareness has been the main battle in between the efforts that we have made in the legislature," he added.

This summer, Whitaker will visit Poland to learn more about the death camps. He will also attend seminars on Holocaust with Classrooms Without Borders so he can impart more knowledge to his students.

Meanwhile, Gross, a Holocaust survivor and Linda Klein, the daughter of Ann Klein, also attended the hearings and received standing ovations after the announcing of the votes.