By Lori Higgins
DETROIT (Detroit Free Press) — Starting this school year, it will be mandatory for Michigan schools to add lessons about genocide to the social studies curriculum for grades 8-12, particularly teachings about the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide.
The mandate is part of bipartisan legislation that received near-unanimous support when the Legislature approved it in May. Gov. Rick Snyder signed it into law in June. Eleven other states already require instruction in genocide, according to the Genocide Education Project.
The new requirements “are not a lot of work for most districts” because genocide is already part of their curriculum, said Bill DiSessa, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Education. But “some districts may need to take a look at what’s in it.”
The Holocaust and Armenian genocide were specifically cited because the Michigan Legislature has already passed laws commemorating both, said Rep. Klint Kesto, R-Commerce Township, the primary sponsor of the legislation.
Michigan has one of the largest Armenian communities in the nation. The Armenian genocide began in 1915, resulting in the killings of 1.5 million Armenians under the Ottoman Empire. Six million Jews were killed during the Holocaust.