Calif. Assembly adopts measure mandating genocide education in public schools

On Wednesday, May 28, the California State Assembly unanimously passed the Armenian Genocide Education Act (AB 1915) with a sweeping vote of 77-0, requiring the inclusion of the Armenian Genocide in the list of studied subject areas for the adopted courses of study in Social Science for 7-12 reported the Armenian National Committee of America Western Region.

AB 1915, which received unanimous support in the California State Assembly Appropriation Committee just last week as well as in the California State Assembly Education Committee in early April has now moved to the Calif. Senate Rules Committee for consideration.

“This landslide victory is yet another testament of what grassroots in action can achieve. The ANCA WR applauds the California State Assembly for taking such a strong stance on this critical education bill and Assemblymembers Nazarian and Achadjian for their leadership,” stated Elen Asatryan, Executive Director of the ANCA-WR. “We look forward to continuing our work alongside our elected officials on the senate side and our grassroots to ensure that future generations learn about the atrocities that took place during the Armenian Genocide of 1915,” added Asatryan.

In his introductory remarks, lead author of AB 1915 Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, discussed the importance of the bill and stated “It is imperative that the Armenian Genocide be added into the teaching of human rights issues because it set the stage for subsequent genocides of the 20th century,”while Principal Co-Author Assemblymember Katcho Achadjian noted “We cannot change what has happened in the past, but we can choose how we move forward. This bill represent a step forward in the healing process. AB 1915 will increase awareness of the Armenian Genocide among our youth in hopes that such tragic acts will not repeat themselves.”

Specifically, AB 1915:
1. Requires each school district to include instruction on the inhumanity of the Armenian Genocide as a part of its social science course of study in grades 7 through 12, inclusive.

2. Encourages the California Department of Education to incorporate into publications that provide examples of curriculum resources for teacher use those materials developed by publishers of nonfiction, trade books, and primary sources, or other public or private organizations, that are age-appropriate and consistent with the subject frameworks on history and social science that deal with the Armenian, Cambodian, Darfur, and Rwandan Genocides.

3. Encourages the incorporation of survivor, rescuer, liberator, and witness testimony into the teaching of the Holocaust, and Genocide, including, but not limited to, the Armenian, Cambodian, Darfur, and Rwandan Genocides.

4. Encourages all state and local professional development activities to provide teachers with content background and resources to assist in teaching about the Armenian Genocide.

5. Requires the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC), when the history-social science curriculum is revised as required by law, to consider including the Armenian, Cambodian, Darfur, and Rwandan genocides in the history-social science curriculum framework.

6. Defines the Armenian Genocide as “the torture, starvation, and murder of 1,500,000 Armenians, which included death marches into the Syrian desert, by the rulers of the Ottoman Turkish Empire and exile of more than 500,000 innocent people during the period from 1915 to 1923, inclusive.

Currently, California is one of 11 states, including Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Virginia, which have the Armenian Genocide included in their curriculum. The California Model Curriculum developed by the Department of Education, includes the Armenian Genocide as a recommended topic to teach. However, schools aren’t required to follow this Model Curriculum.

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