Local teachers support bill on Holocaust, Genocide education

PITT COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - A new bill is hoping to shape the curriculum within the public schools in North Carolina.

The bill would require all middle school and high school students to learn about the Holocaust and other Genocides.

The students at South Central High School in Pitt County have the opportunity to learn about some of the darkest moments in history.

"The Holocaust was not the first and it was not the last genocide. I think it is evident that we haven't been learning from what we have done in the past," High School Senior Alisarah Ithipathachai said.

While the students at South Central can take additional electives to learn more about these topics, they are not a standard part of the state's curriculum.

"If it is not tested unfortunately the way our system is built, sometimes it is not taught," South Central Social Studies Department Chair Lauren Piner said.

Piner said it is her duty to address these difficult moments in history so that when her students see hate or discrimination in the present day, they'll know they have to take action.

"If I did not pass this on, I would be a bystander," Piner said. "And I teach my students to be anything but a bystander."

To address some of the gaps in these important lessons, members of the N.C. Holocaust Council proposed House Bill 437 in March to make Holocaust and Genocide education required for all middle school and high school students.

"It would become part of the standard course of study, which is tested and so there would be specific curriculum added to what teachers need to teach," N.C. Holocaust Council Educator Karen Klaich said.

Members of the N.C. Holocaust Council believe the state's House of Representatives will be voting on the bill either this week or next. Their goal is to have everything approved so they can start crafting a new curriculum for the 2020-2021 school year.

Part of the proposed bill would include funding so the council could go to school districts across the state to educate teachers and prepare them for the changes.