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California Legislature's $10 Million for Human Rights Curricula Includes Armenian Genocide Education

Updated: Jun 21, 2021

Armenian Assembly of America delegation with California State Senator Anthony Portantino in his Glendale District Office on March 17, 2017

SACRAMENTO, CA – The California Legislature passed AB 97, the Budget Act of 2017 on June 15, which allocates $10 million to support the History-Social Science curriculum framework, as well as regional trainings and professional development available for teachers and administrators with an emphasis on the Armenian Genocide and other human and civil rights issues, reported the Armenian Assembly of America (Armenian Assembly). The legislative initiative was spearheaded by California State Senator Anthony J. Portantino (D-CA-25), Chair of the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Education.

“On behalf of the Armenian Assembly, we extend our profound gratitude to State Senator Portantino for his leadership in securing substantial funding for the recently adopted History-Social Science curriculum framework equipping educators with innovative resources in the teaching of human and civil rights, including genocide education and prevention. Senator Portantino’s achievement is a testament to his commitment in shaping human rights education throughout his legislative career,” Armenian Assembly Western Region Director Mihran Toumajan stated. “The Armenian Assembly also commends Senate President pro Tem Kevin de Leon for his staunch support on issues of importance to his Armenian American constituents, and to all legislators who voted in favor of the 2017-2018 budget,” he added.

In 1985, the California Legislature considered a bill introducing a human rights and genocide curriculum throughout the California public school system. Both the State Senate and Assembly passed the bill in September of that year. Then-Governor George Deukmejian signed the bill into law on September 28, 1985, and the new curriculum was first printed in 1987. By 1998, however, the publication was out of print. The Armenian National Institute (ANI) brought the matter to the attention of the California Legislature. Then-State Assemblymember Howard Kaloogian (R-CA-74) and then-State Senator Adam Schiff (D-CA-27) requested appropriations for the reprinting of the Model Curriculum for Human Rights and Genocide in the Fiscal Year 2000 budget. The Armenian Assembly Western Region Office took the lead in coordinating community support for the budget allocation needed to reissue the curriculum.

On April 23, 2001, California passed Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 22 to further develop a model curriculum on human rights and genocide. Resolution No. 22 “recommends that the State Department of Education and school districts convene workshops and teacher training seminars to introduce state educators to the curriculum” and encourages teachers “to utilize the exemplary curriculum to teach the millions of state pupils about human rights and genocide.”

“The Armenian Assembly and Armenian National Institute have been longtime supporters of human rights and genocide education and assisted in creating appropriate curricula. Funding to help train teachers accurately instruct students on the Armenian Genocide and other examples of genocide such as the Holocaust, the Cambodian, and Rwandan is essential,” ANI Director Dr. Rouben Adalian said.

For more information on Armenian Genocide and human rights curricula and other instructional resources, see the Educational Resources page of the Armenian National Institute’s website. View also the online Armenian Genocide Museum of America.

Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a 501©(3) tax-exempt membership organization.

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