Louisiana House committee debates bills requiring schools to teach about Holocaust, American exceptionalism

Rep. Hodges, R-Denham Springs, center, advanced two bills to mandate specific civics teachings in Louisiana. (Courtesy Louisiana House of Representatives)

Published: May 12, 2021

By: Emily Wood | LSU Manship School News Service

BATON ROUGE–Two bills that were met with backlashes in the House Education Committee still advanced on Wednesday to the House floor.

House Bill 352, authored by Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Denham Springs, would require the teaching of the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, the Federalist Papers, the Gettysburg Address and the concepts of national sovereignty, American exceptionalism, globalism and immigration policy.

It would retain present law to teach civics as a prerequisite for high school graduation, but these concepts and documents would be mandated in civics classes.

The bill has been controversial, and it became even more so on Wednesday when some legislators felt that an amendment proposed by Hodges seemed similar to a recent bill by House Education Committee Chairman Rep. Raymond Garofalo, R-Chalmette, that would have prohibited any teaching that the United States or Louisiana is systematically racist or sexist.

His bill was shelved after protests by members of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus. On Wednesday, Garofalo did not chair the hearing but instead came in and out of the room to vote.

Hodges’ amendment would have prohibited the Louisiana Education Department from approving materials that would teach “that a particular sex, race, ethnicity or national origin is inherently superior or inferior to another.”

That amendment failed on a tie vote, but the overall bill passed 8-5. Garofalo voted for the amendment and the bill.

“I truly do not understand how the chairman can be in another room and not presiding and then come in the room to vote,” said Brass, a member of the Legislative Black Caucus.

The committee also approved another Hodges bill, House Bill 416, that would mandate the instruction of World War II and the Holocaust to middle school and high school students. It would include mandated training to teachers instructing students on such history.

The bill would call on schools across the state to partner with the National WWII Museum in New Orleans to teach the curriculum.

Read more at brproud.com

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