GLENDALE— The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region announced its co-sponsorship of the Holocaust Genocide Education Act of 2003 introduced on Friday, February 15, 2002, by California Assemblymembers Paul Koretz (West Hollywood) and Mark Wyland (San Diego). In 1987 the ANCA-WR spearheaded the statewide effort to have the Armenian Genocide included in the State human rights curriculum standards.
The ANCA-WR has been involved with the Koretz/Wyland bill since its inception. Specifically, the ANC-San Francisco/Bay Area Chapter worked to assist in the development of the legislation to ensure it reflects current public education content standards and appropriately embraces the significance of the Armenian Genocide as a tragic and unique crime against humanity, used as the prototype for modern-day genocide and of particular import in human rights education.
“Assemblymembers Koretz and Wyland have demonstrated great vision in introducing this bill,” said ANC-San Francisco Bay Area Chapter representative Roxanne Makasdjian. “We have been working with Assemblymember Koretz’s office, particularly with Chief of Staff Scott Svonkin and Senior Assistant Sandra DeBourelando to ensure that the bill includes a comprehensive approach to human rights curriculum. We are confident that through the amendment process, we’ll be able to strengthen the bill to reflect the importance of the Armenian Genocide as part and parcel of the topic of human rights.”
The ANCA-WR and the ANC-San Francisco/Bay Area Chapter are at the forefront of Armenian Genocide curriculum advocacy and development in California and the Western US. The ANCA-WR in early 2001 published The Armenian Genocide 1915-1923A Handbook for Students and Teachers authored by Dr. Simon Payaslian under the auspices of the Armenian Cultural Foundation’s Education Resource Committee to be distributed in California’s public high schools as a teaching supplement to world history classes.
At the same time, the ANC-San Francisco/Bay Area Chapter has led the effort to develop comprehensive lesson plans for 10th grade World History courses in California public schools. In this process, the Chapter has enlisted the expertise of San Francisco Unified School District instructors and has conducted numerous workshops and teacher training seminars.
“Unfortunately, we’ve found that most schools in California neglect teaching the Armenian Genocide, primarily because of a lack of educational resources, as well as a lack of awareness on the part of teachers and administrators,” explained Makasdjian. “We are working to redress this problem by making public schools aware of the California State mandate to teach the Armenian Genocide and other human rights subjects, as outlined in the 1987 Model Curriculum on Human Rights and Genocide.”
“As the only Armenian American grassroots organization in California working on Armenian Genocide curriculum development, we look forward to playing an instrumental role in assisting Assemblymembers Koretz and Wyland to bring this piece of legislation to passage, while addressing some of the concerns in the Armenian American community regarding the bill,” explained ANCA-WR Executive Director Alex Sardar. “As we have discussed with Assemblymember Koretz’s staff and based on their commitment to further strengthen the legislation vis-à-vis the Armenian Genocide and its specification as a basis for the legislation, we are confident that we will have a solid piece of legislation, which will address the consistent and continuous teaching of the Armenian Genocide, the Holocaust and other such crimes against humanity, by offering the necessary resources and aides to California schools.”
The California State Board of Education in 1999 made a decision to include the Armenian Genocide in its history and social science content standards for 10th grade students, as well as high school exit exams. The ANCA-WR has been involved for almost two decades in the development of curriculum standards and resources on the Armenian Genocide.
The Armenian National Committee of America is the largest and most influential Armenian-American grassroots political organization. The ANCA actively advances a broad range of issues of concern to the Armenian-American community.