ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Florida’s Board of Education held its bi-monthly meeting in Tampa Bay at the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg Wednesday.
The location was chosen because, in addition to discussing COVID-19 and other school related issues, the board also unveiled a new Holocaust education program.
Board members heard chilling words from Holocaust Survivor Toni Rinde, whose personal story is one of the many recorded resources now available online for teachers and students across the state of Florida.
“If our country is going to continue to advance and move in the right direction and avoid these horrible atrocities from history from ever happening again - education is vital,” said Board Member Ben Gibson.
The museum unveiled a new digital version of its Holocaust education materials, which includes links to all sorts of age-appropriate information and resources.
The goal is to educate young people about the atrocities, while promoting tolerance.
“New studies are showing that students who receive quality holocaust instruction are more empathetic more pluralistic in their views, more likely to recognize biased information and stereotyping and 50% more likely to offer help in a bullying scenario,” said the museum’s Executive Director Elizabeth Gelman.
Earlier this year the Florida legislature passed a law requiring schools to make Holocaust education part of their curriculum.
A recent study showed shockingly few young people are aware that six million Jews were murdered during World War II. Florida students ranked third from last in the survey.
“We have done a lot of good work, obviously not enough, we recognize that, and we will fix it,” said Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran. “And we will have the most educated graduates on what happened.”
The Florida Holocaust Museum is working with the state to distribute learning materials to schools in all 67 districts. Part of that same law requires schools to then show they’ve complied with the state mandate.
Those same online materials are also available to teachers and students participating in e-learning, virtual schools and even homeschooling.
“You can never educate people enough on the depth of evil that is within men,” said Corcoran. “We will not forget. We will do whatever it takes not to forget.”