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Oregon bill would require Holocaust education

Rep. Pam Marsh, D-Ashland, is among 29 sponsors of a bill that would mandate education on genocide — with particular emphasis on the Holocaust — in public schools.

If passed, it would take effect July 2020, with the Oregon Department of Education providing school districts with technical assistance to implement the curriculum.

The instruction requirements are multifaceted. School districts would be required to “enable students to evaluate the morality of the Holocaust, genocide and similar acts of mass violence and to reflect on the causes of related historical events,” as well as “enable students to understand the ramifications of prejudice, racism and stereotyping.”

Other instruction requirements would “provide students with a foundation for examining the history of discrimination in this state; and explore the various mechanisms of transitional and restorative justice that helps humanity move forward in the aftermath of genocide.”

A Holocaust survivor and a freshman from Lake Oswego partnered up to push the legislation in 2018.

After surviving a Nazi concentration camp in Germany, Alter Wiener, 92, spent his life from 2000 onward speaking in schools, prisons and other forums about his experience and his healing process.

Claire Sarnowski, 14, a freshman at Lakeridge High School, heard him speak at her elementary school. Years later, they collaborated on SB 664.

Wiener was killed in December when he was struck by a vehicle while crossing the street near his Portland home.

The legislation he championed, however, is still under consideration in the Senate Committee on Education, which has heard hours of testimony on the bill already.

Rep. Pam Marsh, D-Ashland, is among 29 sponsors of a bill that would mandate education on genocide — with particular emphasis on the Holocaust — in public schools.