The state Assembly approved the Holocaust education bill on Tuesday, after state Senate did so last month.
Political observers expect that the governor will sign the bill shortly.
On the floor of the Assembly, before the vote, Rep. Jon Plumer of Lodi told a story of the only time he ever saw his father cry – when he talked about what he saw during World War II. Plumer, a Republican, thanked other representatives for their support for the bill.
Rep. Lisa Subeck told a story of visiting, with family, a wall with names on it at a concentration camp. “It took me a little bit of time as my dad was staring at the wall to realize that he was looking for family names,” said Subeck, a Madison Democrat who is Jewish, on the floor of the Assembly. She said telling that story gets her emotional every time.
“The lessons of the Holocaust are vitally important because when we know our history, we are less likely to repeat it,” she said. Rep. Don Vruwink, a Milton Democrat and social studies teacher, said he wanted education to include why the Holocaust happened.
The bill will mandate Holocaust education in Wisconsin middle schools and high schools. The bill comes at a time when, according to recent research, young Americans are uninformed on the Holocaust. “That scares me. That terrifies me because it tells me it could happen again,” Subeck said.
The bill will require that the state superintendent consult with an organization in the state that provides Holocaust education programs – the Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center, a program of Milwaukee Jewish Federation, is an indisputable leader on this in Wisconsin. Commonly called “HERC,” the program has been working to ready itself to assist the state’s educators, according to its director, Samantha Abramson.
HERC and its supporters have worked for years to research the Holocaust education laws of other states and promote the bill through the Wisconsin political process.
The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle will have more on this, in print and at JewishChronicle.org