Teaching WWII history, Holocaust may be required in Louisiana schools

Published: May 25, 2021

By: Emily Wood | LSU Manship School News Service

Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Denham Springs, spoke about her bill that would mandate the teaching of the Holocaust and World War II in Louisiana public schools. Photo Credit: Emily Wood/LSU Manship School News Service

BATON ROUGE–A bill that would mandate the instruction of World War II and the Holocaust to middle school and high school students passed 65-32 in the House Monday. It would include training for teachers instructing students on such history.

“By teaching students about World War II, they become stronger in their ability as a society to resist efforts to marginalize and demonize vulnerable groups of people,” said the bill’s author, Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Denham Springs.

The bill, House Bill 416, would call on schools across the state to partner with the National WWII Museum in New Orleans to teach the curriculum.

Rep. Hodges said that it is the legislators and the educator’s responsibility to share the stories of the Holocaust because survivors will soon no longer be around to share themselves.

There was opposition to the bill from the Louisiana Board of Secondary Education (BESE). A commission is reviewing state social studies standards that will make a recommendation to BESE for new standards in October.

Rep. Hodges explained that her bill is timely because waiting for the review commission to create new standards would be too late. Once new standards are created, they are in place for the next seven years.

Rep. Beryl Amedee, R-Houma, said she had heard from opponents who think that all curriculum standards decisions should be made by BESE, not the Legislature. Rep. Hodges responded that the Legislature has mandated curriculum 37 different times in the past.

Rep. Ted James, D-Baton Rouge, brought an amendment to the bill to mandate the teaching of significant Black historical figures. The amendment failed, but it created robust debate by House members on what should and should not be mandated in Louisiana public schools.

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