Thank you, Michael Soffer, for stepping forward and developing a new Holocaust Studies course for OPRF High School. I would also like to congratulate those in District 200 for supporting this project. As a resident of Oak Park since 1972, with two sons who graduated from districts 97 and 200, I have had and witnessed many “not-so-welcoming situations” in our diverse and open community. I would like to add to some of the issues brought up in the articles as to why Mr. Soffer has suggested and developed the course. A bit of history regarding Holocaust and genocide studies.
In November of 1987 there was an outbreak of vandalism in Illinois and some individuals, who were survivors of the Holocaust, urged the Illinois legislature to do something educational and helpful. On Jan. 1, 1990, the state of Illinois, became the first in the nation to mandate through Public Act 094-0478 that all public elementary and high schools teach about the Holocaust. The Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center has been involved all along.
In 2005, the Illinois School Code, through House Bill 3, expanded this mandate. The Anti-Defamation League has had, and continues to have, educational materials and curricula on this subject and has worked with many school districts in Illinois and the country.
Has Oak Park and River Forest High School been following this mandate? If this course is new, it seems that we have not been following the mandates of 1990 and 2005, either in our elementary schools or at the high school!
Do the state agencies, local agencies, elected officials, or local officials check to see if unfunded or funded mandates are followed? It seems like they aren’t but should.
Thank you again, Mr. Soffer.
Retired Municipal Clerk of Oak Park