Teachers weigh in on proposed Holocaust education bill

The idea is to not only teach students about the historical event but to give them a deeper understanding of the immorality of genocides.

Posted: Feb. 22, 2019 6:54 PM
Updated: Feb. 23, 2019 4:20 PM

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Local educators are weighing in as the Oregon Legislature considers a bill that would require Oregon school districts to teach students about the Holocaust and other acts of genocide.

Tyler Nice, who's taught Social Studies at Thurston High School for nine years, said he hopes teaching students about the tragedies of the past will guide them as they look to the future.

"We know that the Holocaust can be discussed at varying levels with different age groups," Nice said. "The more familiar kids are with the tragedies of the past, hopefully we can avoid those tragedies in the future going forward."

If the bill passes all public school districts would be required to add more Holocaust education.

RELATED: BILL WOULD REQUIRE HOLOCAUST EDUCATION IN OREGON SCHOOLS

Nice said Oregon has existing guidelines that require teaching about the Holocaust, but the new bill would spell out more precise curriculum.

The idea is to not only teach students about the historical event but to give them a deeper understanding of the morality of genocides of both of the Jewish people and other ethnic groups during World War II.

Nathan Fendrich spent years photographing wars in the Middle East. After his time overseas he came back to Oregon, where he taught high school students about the Holocaust.

MORE: EUGENE MAN'S PHOTOGRAPHS OF YOM KIPPUR WAR RESURFACE AFTER 45 YEARS

"You really have to experience it personally to really know what you're talking about," Fendrich said. "You may read it, but it's not the same thing."

As a Jewish-American he said those lessons are invaluable for students.

Students in every class that Fendrich taught have written him letters thanking him for his insight. Some say they'll never forget it. Some say he changed their life.

The bill is still in its beginning stages, but stay with KEZI for updates as it moves through legislation.

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