House Education Committee

February 2, 2023

Rep Evans: Members, we’re going to drop down to SB68, that’s the only bill that we will be hearing today. Representative Vaught, I see you at the end of the table. Are you ready to present?

Rep Vaught: Yes, sir.

Rep Evans: You may go ahead and present House Bill SB68.

Rep Vaught: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Thank you, Committee. So this bill does not mandate teaching the Holocaust education during this week. It’s just designating the last full week of January each year and requires the state board to remind schools annually what these dates are and to encourage them to teach during that week on the Holocaust.

Rep Evans: Ready for questions?

Rep Vaught: Shoot yeah.

Rep Evans: Shoot yeah. Members, any questions for Representative Vaught? Representative Fite, you are recognized.

Rep C Fite: Thank you, Mr. Chair. We already have the Holocaust Memorial Day. This would just be expanding it to a week, correct?

Rep Vaught: Yes, ma’am.

Rep C Fite: Thank you.

Rep Evans: Representative Duke, you’re recognized.

Rep Duke: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I just have a quick question. So if it works for their curriculum to do it at a different time of the year they have that flexibility as well?

Rep Vaught: Yes, ma’am.

Rep Duke: Okay. Thank you for clarifying. Appreciate it.

Rep Evans: Representative McKenzie, you’re recognized.

Rep McKenzie: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Is there any prescribed or recommended curriculum that comes with this?

Rep Vaught: So we did that last session. I’m trying to remember what Act it is. Off the top of my head, I sent it to Representative Duke. I can send it to you also but it was under the direction of the Department of Ed to come up with the curriculum for it.

Rep McKenzie: Thank you.

Rep Vaught: Yeah, 611. There you go. Thank you.

Rep Evans: Any other questions by the Committee? Representative Meeks, you’re recognized.

Rep Meeks: I told Representative Vaught I’d hit her with at least one. So the only question I have is I notice it says the state board shall notify the public schools. Is that something that the state board should do or should it be the Department of Education? And I may just be splitting hairs here.

Rep Vaught: Yeah, I think you’re splitting hairs but I’ll try to–

Rep Meeks: I didn’t know if that was the proper role of the board versus the department. Or I guess the board can tell the department to do it but.

Rep Vaught: Yeah. I think it’s where it’s supposed to be. Obviously, it came from the Senate and they know better than we know.

Rep Meeks: Okay, that raises red flags in and of itself for me.

Rep Wing: Might have a question on that.

Rep Evans: That would be for another debate, Representative Vaught.

Rep Vaught: Another debate, yes, sir. Yes, sir. Sorry, sir. I’ll keep it on the bill.

Rep Evans: Any other questions from Committee? Seeing none, we do have one person signed up to speak for the bill. Steve, are you still here? If you’d go to the end of the table, identify yourself for the record and you may proceed with your testimony.

Ronnell: Good morning. My name is Steve Ronnell. I’m a Little Rock small business owner and I’m here today. This thing’s got a mind of its own. I’m here today– hope you can hear me, representing the Holocaust Education Living Proposal Committee that worked with Representative Vaught and others in this Committee to pass the bill in the last session to make Holocaust education required in public schools across the state.

The only thing that I’d like to add because I feel like Representative Vaught has handled this beautifully, is that the last week of January is not a coincidence. January 27th, which was last Friday, is the anniversary date of the US Army and the Allied liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp in Europe. Which exposed the atrocities of the Nazis to the world and helped kind of bring home why the Greatest Generation fought for freedom and against tyranny in World War II, and so that week will be designated Holocaust Education Week. Also, January 27th is United Nations recognized Holocaust Education– excuse me, Holocaust Remembrance Day across the world. So it’s very appropriate and timely. And appreciate your support.

Rep Evans: Members, any questions for Mr. Ronnell? Seeing none, sir. Thank you for your testimony today. We thank you for being here.

Ronnell: Thank you.

Rep Evans: Seeing no other questions, Representative Vaught, you ready to close for your bill?

Rep Vaught: I’m closed and I ask for a good vote. And motion do pass.

Rep Evans: Members, we have a motion do pass by Representative Vaught. Is there any discussion on the motion? Seeing none,we’ll vote on the motion. All those in favor say aye. Opposed nay. Congratulations, your bill has passed. Members, that’s it. We will be back here Tuesday Morning 10 AM. Thank you for being here today. We are adjourned.