GenEd and California Department of Education Working Together

Murad Minasian (Left) and Raffi Momjian, GenEd Executive Director (Right), at meeting with Superintendent Tom Torlakson

Teacher survey and joint projects initiated

SAN FRANCISCO–The Genocide Education Project (GenEd) and the California Department of Education have initiated a working relationship aimed at expanding instruction of the Armenian Genocide to more schools across California. Through the efforts of Murad Minasian, the Armenian-American community liaison for the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson, GenEd is collaborating with the Superintendent’s office on a long-term strategic plan to insure that students in the state’s public high school system have the benefit of lessons on the Armenian Genocide and the pattern of genocides that followed it.

Although California law requires instruction on the Armenian Genocide, particularly during 10th grade World History courses, many social studies educators are unaware of the mandate or lack the appropriate teaching materials and training to carry it out. Torlakson was made aware of the problem while campaigning for the office of Superintendent last year, and he vowed to work on ways to solve it. As a preliminary step, Torlakson assigned his staff to work with GenEd to develop and administer an online survey, gathering information from high school educators about the extent of instruction about the Armenian Genocide in their classrooms.

“Working with the Superintendent’s office has been very encouraging,” said Raffi Momjian, GenEd’s Executive Director. “He and his staff demonstrate a commitment to understanding how efficiently the Armenian Genocide is being taught, the obstacles teachers face, and devising ways to bring this subject to students more effectively.”

The online survey was composed by GenEd and disseminated by the Department of Education to schools and district offices in October. Many respondents reported spending minimal time and resources on teaching the Armenian Genocide, but expressed a willingness to include more instruction if offered training and appropriate teaching materials.

Momjian and Minasian met with Torlakson to discuss a variety of options for reaching teachers and addressing their needs.

“It was reassuring to learn of the various teaching resources and training The Genocide Education Project provides to help teachers meet the requirements on teaching about the Genocide,” said Minasian. “The Armenian-American community strongly supported Superintendent Torlakson in the campaign. We must now help provide his office real solutions for making sure the Armenian Genocide is taught across the state. Having an organization like The Genocide Education Project to fill that gap is an essential part of the formula.”

“We should take all possible steps to make sure our history is taught as accurately and completely as possible,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. “I commend the Genocide Education Project for informing me about their concerns about the inconsistent manner in which the Armenian Genocide, and other genocides, are currently taught. I look forward to continued discussion and research that will enrich our understanding of this tragic event.”

The Genocide Education Project is a nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization that assists educators in teaching about human rights and genocide, particularly the Armenian Genocide, by developing and distributing instructional materials, providing access to teaching resources and organizing educational workshops.

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