BOSTON — Massachusetts lawmakers are renewing a push for mandatory genocide education after a high school football coach was fired following reports that the team used anti-Semitic language, including a mention of Auschwitz, in its on-field play calling.
The Massachusetts Senate last year approved a bill that would require instruction on genocide before students graduate from high school. The legislation failed to reach Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk.
Senate President Karen Spilka said she expects the Senate will again approve the bill.
“As a Jew who lost family at Auschwitz, a daughter of a WWII veteran, I find the news about the Duxbury football team and their use of anti-Semitic language appalling,” the Democrat tweeted.
Spilka went on to tweet that “we need this to be more than just a ‘teachable moment’ — we need sustained, increased education — among administrators, educators, coaches, officials, referees and students — so that this never happens again.”
Under the bill, every state school district would be required to include in its middle and high school curriculum a unit of instruction on the history of genocide.
Teaching about acts of genocide around the globe would help promote human rights issues and warn that “national, ethnic, racial, or religious hatred can overtake any nation or society, leading to calamitous consequences,” according to the text of the bill.
The bill would also “reaffirm the commitment of free peoples from all nations to never again permit the occurrence of another genocide” and recognize “that crimes of genocide continue to be perpetrated across the globe as they have been in the past.”
House Speaker Ronald Mariano said that as a former teacher, he recognizes the importance of teaching about genocide to help stem bigotry and intolerance.
“This curriculum must be taught in a culturally-relevant and age appropriate manner. As a former coach, I was particularly disgusted to hear about what happened in Duxbury,” the Democrat said in a written statement. “I am currently reviewing the details of the bill and look forward to future discussions.”
Supporters say they are troubled with how many younger people are unaware of the scope of the genocide that occurred during World War II, in which the Nazis killed more than 6 million Jews in Europe.
According to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, as many as 17 states require Holocaust education as part of their secondary school curriculums.
Duxbury High School this week said it has severed ties with Coach Dave Maimaron, a special needs teacher at the school, who was placed on paid administrative leave from his teaching position pending further investigation of the play calling.
“The outrage is real, warranted, and we hear it,” Duxbury High School’s administration said in an email this week. “The fact that members of our school community used such offensive language, including anti-Semitic language, is horrifying and disappointing.”
The announcement came the day after Robert Trestan, president of the New England Anti-Defamation League, called for an independent investigation. Trestan said he was told by district Superintendent John Antonucci that the words “rabbi” and “dreidel” were also used in Duxbury’s March 12 game against Plymouth North. Plymouth school officials alerted Duxbury about the matter.
Maimaron released a written apology calling the language “insensitive, crass and inappropriate.”
State Sen. Barry Finegold, a former college football player who is also Jewish, has offered to talk to the team.
“I have heard a lot of line-of-scrimmage audibles, but I never heard anyone use ‘Auschwitz’ before,” Finegold wrote in an open letter.