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3 Years After Task Force Created, 90 Percent Of PA Schools Have Some Kind Of Holocaust Education

Martin Meissner
AP Photo
Flowers lie on a Jewish gravestone during a ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Bergen, northern Germany, Sunday, April 26, 2015.

In 2014, a state task force was assembled to find out how many Pennsylvania schools teach its students about the Holocaust, genocide and human rights violations. Act 70 encouraged schools to teach about these subjects by providing free resources and training for teachers.

Three years later, the Pennsylvania Board of Education has found that 93 percent of public, charter and technical schools in the commonwealth reported some level of instruction on the topics. 

This a huge success according to Hank Butler, executive director of the Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition. He says the task force's goal was 90 percent.

"We thought it would be very hard to meet that number because of the inclusion of not only public schools, but charter and technical schools," Butler said. "But we're very happy we exceeded that."

However, Butler said there was no study done initially to find out how many schools were or were not teaching students about the Holocaust prior to enacting Act 70.

Karen Molchanow of the state Board of Education said the 7 percent of schools that currently don't teach the subject matter are primarily trade schools and K-5 institutions.

Thursday, the Board recommended the commonwealth not disband the Act 70 task force, so it can continue education on the topics.

"It would be very important to keep the education going," Butler said. "So everyone understands how genocides and Holocausts came about."