Campus: CSU Chico -- February 4, 2004

Center for Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Offers Teacher Training

Sixty-five Elk Grove School District teachers will participate in the first training for university credit offered this week through the State Center for Excellence on the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, Human Rights and Tolerance located at California State University, Chico.

Under the auspices of the center, professors Sam Edelman and Carol Edelman, director and associate director of the center, with the help of experts from around the state and in-kind support from the State Department of Education, have trained 300 teachers since January 2003. Their task, created by Assembly Bill 2003 (Paul Koretz) in October 2002, is to provide California teachers with the training and knowledge to effectively teach pupils about the Holocaust, genocide, human rights and tolerance.

The Elk Grove teacher training is the first large training for credit that the center has organized. The goal of the center is to train California teachers of history, social science and language arts. The curriculum for the training supports the state’s frameworks in those subject areas.

The curriculum materials include information on the social, geopolitical and economic aspects of the Holocaust, as well as 20th century genocide in Armenia, Rwanda and Cambodia. A core element of the curriculum is survivor testimonies. Teachers are trained to use the materials to explore questions of related moral issues.

Teachers’ response to the curriculum has been “phenomenal,” said Sam Edelman. “They view what we are doing as important to them. We introduce them to a vast number of resources—film, testimonies, documents—and help them teach the state frameworks more effectively.

“One of the things we want teachers and students to understand is that democracy is a very fragile thing. Small things build up. The Nazi movement started out with a tiny group of people. It was eventually able to destroy a fully functioning democracy in about a 10-year period. It was able to do that because people were silent when there was discrimination, prejudice and hatred in Germany,” said Edelman. “Our ultimate goal is to teach kids the necessity of taking the step to treat others with respect.”

AB 2003 directed the center at CSU, Chico be set up as a pilot project with private funding. Edelman said that, with the help of groups such as the Koret Foundation of San Francisco, the Endowment Fund of the Jewish Federation, the Jewish Chautauqua Society and the CSU Chancellor’s Office, funding has gone well.

Because of the success in private funding and the demonstration of the viability of the center, Assemblyman Koretz authored AB 1175 for this year’s legislative agenda. If passed, the legislation will make the center, located at CSU, Chico, permanent and operational throughout the state.

Edelman said that the center works with institutions and agencies that deal with issues of human rights throughout the state, including The Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles; Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation of Visual History, with 53,000 survivor testimonies; the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith Statewide; the Armenian Genocide Resource Center, Northern California; the Northern California Holocaust Resource Center in San Francisco; the school-based organization Facing History in Ourselves; and a number of Cambodian groups in Long Beach and Stanislaus County.

In the next few years, the center plans to have master teachers sponsored by the center in every school district in the state, perhaps in every high school in the state. There are models for such programs in Florida and New Jersey, said Edelman. They also foresee an international conference.

You can find more information about the center at

CONTACT: Kathleen McPartland, 530-898-4260
Sam Edelman, director, 530-898-4336

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