California Assembly Committee passes Genocide Education Bill

California Assembly Committee passes Genocide Education Bill

PanARMENIAN.Net - On Friday May 23, the California State Assembly Appropriations Committee unanimously passed AB 1915, 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 (ANCA WR). The bill, authored by Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian, also recommends for the Department of Education to include the atrocities of 1915 into publications and curriculum materials, Asbarez reported.

AB 1915, which had unanimously passed the California State Assembly Education Committee in early April will now move on to the full Assembly floor for consideration.

“As AB 1915 advances for a floor vote, I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Assembly and the ANCA-WR to ensure swift passage for this vital measure. Education on human rights and the Armenian genocide is an important component that should be broadly incorporated in our curriculum. This has been a long time coming, and I am so pleased from the broad range of support for this measure,” stated Assemblymember Nazarian.

Earlier in the week, ANCA Western Region Executive Director Elen Asatryan submitted a strongly worded letter in support of AB1915 on behalf of the organization noting “Despite the existence of the provision within the framework (pursuant to AB 1273 which was enacted in 1985), the Armenian Genocide is not taught in the overwhelming majority of our public schools. The State Assembly recently passed AB 659 which encourages inclusion of oral history components in the instruction of human rights issues, including the Armenian Genocide. This law is a step in the right direction, but not enough to achieve the objective of instruction across all public schools across the state. What is necessary is enactment of AB 1915 which would mandate such instruction while providing teachers with the tools that they need”.

“Within the context of modern world history, the Armenian Genocide was a pivotal event which served as a progenitor to the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. Consequently, the Holocaust (which must be taught per state law) cannot be taught or understood comprehensively without instructing students about the Armenian Genocide,” she continued.

In the weeks leading up to State Assembly consideration of the measure, the ANCA Western Region worked closely with legislators to ensure they learned of the broad, enthusiastic support for the measure, especially during the organization’s 2014 Advocacy Day when over 350 activists from California including a group of students from San Marino High School who have taken up the Genocide Education as their senior project, met with over 70 California legislators.

On Wednesday April 9, ANCA Western Region Education Committee Chair Alice Petrossian and ANCA Western Region Education Committee Executive Member and writer Kay Mouradian testified in front of the the California State Assembly Education Committee in support of the bill along with joint author of AB 1915 Assemblymember Katcho Achadjian, and Assembly Education Committee members, Chair Joan Buchanan and Assemblymember Rocky J. Chavez prior to its unanimous passed.

Further, earlier this year, the State Assembly Education and Appropriations Committees unanimously adopted AB 659, another bill introduced by Assemblymember Adrin Nazarian. The bill, which is on its way to the California State Senate, encourages schools to use oral histories when teaching about the Armenian Genocide and other acts against humanity. AB 659 set the stage for the presentation of AB1915.

Once adopted by the full State Assembly and the State Senate and signed into law by the Governor, AB 1915 would codify the Armenian Genocide into the curriculum of 7th to 12th grade Social Science and History classes. It would also recommend publication about the Armenian Genocide and other genocides including Cambodia, Rwanda and Darfur in instructional materials provided to instructors about crimes against humanity.

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.

The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.

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