Gov. Gavin Newsom Wednesday announced the launch of the Governor’s Council on Holocaust and Genocide Education, which will be tasked with identifying resources to teach students across California about the Holocaust and other acts of genocide, and providing young people with the tools needed to recognize and respond to on-campus instances of anti-Semitism and bigotry.
“We find ourselves in a moment of history where hate pervades the public discourse,” Newsom said in a news release. “National surveys have indicated a shocking decline in awareness among young people about the Holocaust and other acts of genocide. But in California, we are offering an antidote to the cynicism that this is how things are, and responding to that hate the best way we know how – with education and empathy.”
The council grew out of bills authored by Sen. Henry Stern, D- Calabasas, and Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel, D-Woodland Hills. Stern, Attorney General Rob Bonta and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond will co-chair the council, Newsom said.
Also serving on the council will be Assemblymen Adrin Nazarian, D-Van Nuys; Jose Medina, D-Riverside; and James Ramos, D-Rancho Cucamonga; Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan; and Senators Susan Rubio, D-West Covina; Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco; and Connie Leyva, D-Pomona.
Based on community feedback, the council will also include academics, advocates and community organizations “reflecting the wide diversity of communities impacted by genocide throughout history,” the governor’s office said.
“As we continue to confront the stain of bigotry and anti-Semitism in California and across the country, it is imperative that we come together to develop tools to combat hate across our society, including in education,” Bonta said. “The Governor’s Council will ensure California schools are positioned to protect our communities and recognize the trauma of the past.”
Plans also include the development of a volunteer speakers bureau of individuals such as Holocaust survivors who can engage teachers and students in conversation about the lessons of genocide.
“I applaud Senator Stern for his leadership to create this important educational opportunity,” Thurmond said.
“Education has the power to be a great equalizer and to help us grow, understand and find a pathway to healing. It is the way to build inclusive and welcoming school environments. This is why, at the California Department of Education, I have created the Education to End Hate Initiative and why I am so proud to co-sponsor Senator Stern’s bill.
“Now we look forward to partnering in the implementation of the $10 million that has been allocated for the Anti Bias Education Grant program in the state budget,” Thurmond added.
The state’s spending plan also includes funding to develop curriculum resources related to Holocaust and genocide education for the Holocaust Museum LA, the Tauber Holocaust Library and Archives, and the Museum of Tolerance for a new exhibit focused on anti-Semitism.
In addition, the budget calls for $110 million for a multi-year grant program to fund support services for victims and survivors of hate crimes and their families, and to facilitate hate crime prevention measures and priorities.