SACRAMENTO – The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region testified in support of “The Holocaust/Genocide Education Act of 2003” in Sacramento before the California State Assembly Education Committee on April 3, 2002. Assemblymembers Paul Koretz (D-West Hollywood) and Mark Wyland (R-Escondido) co-authored and introduced Assembly Bill 2003 – a bill aimed at establishing a framework in California to ensure that teachers are better prepared to teach the important lessons of crimes against humanity like the Armenian Genocide and Jewish Holocaust. The Committee voted unanimously to pass the bill after hearing testimony from co-sponsor organizations.
Other organizations co-sponsoring A.B. 2003 include the B’nai B’rith of Southern California, Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, The Jewish Federation of Los Angeles, the California Federation of Teachers, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center- Museum of Tolerance and the Armenian Assembly of America. Representatives of the various organizations were present to testify on behalf of the bill on Wednesday.
Haig Baghdassarian of the ANC Bay Area Chapter testified on behalf of the Armenian National Committee of America. Additional testimony was submitted by Professor Stephan Astourian, professor of Armenian and Caucasian History at U.C. Berkeley and Richard Koloian, Director of the Armenian Genocide Resource Center.
In its written testimony, the ANCA-WR reaffirmed its steady and unwavering support for the bill, asserting that genocide awareness is crucial to the education of students and should be a central part of the California curriculum.
“Now more than ever, does our nation, our great state and our various communities need the educational institutions and tools which will help fight intolerance, hate and discrimination. Genocide is the final stage of discrimination and denial is the final stage of genocide,” said Ardashes Kassakhian, ANCA-WR Director of Government Relations “It is important that we take a stand against all three by collectively supporting AB 2003 and setting the precedent for others to follow.”
Under AB 2003, organizations will receive the assistance they need to raise awareness of these crimes against humanity through the creation of Centers for Excellence. These Centers, which will operate in conjunction with the California State University, will work closely with community based organizations to help coordinate training and education programs for teachers and students.
The ANCA-WR has been at the forefront of Armenian Genocide curriculum advocacy and development in California and the Western United States. 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.
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 (ANCA) is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots political organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCA actively advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.