Rhode Island Assembly Passes Genocide Education Bill

The Rhode Island State Capitol

PROVIDENCE, R.I—The Rhode Island State House Legislation has passed the General Assembly instructing the Department of Education to help local schools teach students about genocide as a critical component of civic education.

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Warwick) and Rep. Anastasia P. Williams (D-Dist. 9, Providence), directs the state Department of Education to post on its website materials to help schools teach students about genocides including the Holocaust and those in Armenia, Cambodia, Iraq, Rwanda and Darfur.

In 2000, the General Assembly passed a law requiring the Department of Education to develop curricular materials on genocide and human rights issues and guidelines for teaching them. The new bill, which has been forwarded to the governor, will require that the curricular materials for middle and high schools be posted online so it can be easily accessed by schools.

The sponsors said they recognize that schools are struggling for funding and that teachers are also pressed for time, so making the curriculum available online would increase the likelihood that the subject would be taught in schools.

“Genocides and human rights violations carried out by governments are ugly chapters of history, but students are future leaders and voters and they need to learn about mistakes of the past to keep them from being repeated,” said Representative Williams.

Said Senator Miller, “One of the purposes of public education is to raise new generations of informed, responsible citizens who understand government. It’s critical that students learn that sometimes governments have done the wrong thing, not only trampling on the rights of minorities, but attempting to wipe out entire races or cultures. Making curriculum on genocide available to Rhode Island teachers online will make it much more likely that students will learn about these subjects, which have had profound and lasting effects on the world in which they live.”

The House bill (2011-H 5732 A) passed the Assembly yesterday and will be forwarded to the governor. The Senate bill (2011-S 0290A) passed the Assembly May 31 and has been transmitted to the governor.


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