Democrats hold supermajorities in both houses of the Oregon legislature, and Republicans are using delay tactics to slow down and gain leverage over legislation — in the state Senate, that means Republicans are strategically refusing to show up for work, and the House GOP is requiring the clerk to read every word of most legislation, not just summaries. But on Tuesday, the Oregon House voted unanimously to approve a bill requiring public schools in the state to teach students about the Holocaust and other genocides. The Senate passed it unanimously in March.
Assuming Gov. Kate Brown (D) signs the bill, Oregon will become the 11th state to require some form of Holocaust education, joining California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.
Anti-Semitic incidents are rising across the U.S., and they quadrupled at K-12 schools from 2015 to 2017, the Anti-Defamation League says. A 2018 survey from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany found that 22 percent of U.S. millennials "haven't heard" or "are not sure if they have heard" of the Holocaust, and 31 percent of all Americans say 2 million Jews or fewer were killed in the Holocaust. About 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, plus millions of other people, including Roma, developmentally disabled people, and gay men.
The Oregon bill requires instruction designed to "prepare students to confront the immorality of the Holocaust, genocide, and other acts of mass violence and to reflect on the causes of related historical events." The bill was originally proposed by Holocaust survivor Alter Weiner, who died in a car accident in December at age 92, and high school freshman Claire Sarnowski.
All other legislation will have to be read out loud by House clerk Lacy Ramirez Gruss, at least until House Democrats lose patience. You can learn more at The Associated Press or in the KGW TV report below. Peter Weber