Laurie Cardoza-Moore: Get Holocaust education into schools, anti-Semitism out
April 16, 2021
In 1994 the state legislature mandated that Holocaust education must be taught in Florida public schools. At that time, the Holocaust Memorial Resource & Education Center was one of 27 members of the Florida Department of Education's Task Force on Holocaust Education. Under the leadership of Tess Wise, founder of the Center, they provided educational resources to a 13-county area, which included instructional materials, best practices and professional development.
According to the Center's website, during the 2018-19 school year over 25,000 students from area public and private schools and home school groups visited the Holocaust Center or participated in an in-school presentation by a member of the Center's education team.
Last June, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill that expands Holocaust education in schools. It requires teachers to include lessons regarding anti-Semitism. That bill, HB 1213, went into effect July 1, 2020, requiring public schools to certify that they teach about the Holocaust. The new law also makes the second week in November Holocaust Education Week.
What do students know about the Holocaust?
"Anti-Semitism is on the rise. It hasn't been taught in any structured way before in schools," chair of the state's Holocaust Education Task Force Barbara Goldstein said. She's hoping the new requirement will shine a light on the history of anti-Semitism.
"It need[s] to be addressed, and hopefully we can create some learning about anti-Semitism in the schools and in the classrooms that we've never done before with this new legislation," Goldstein stated.
In an article on whowhatwhy.org, in September the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany did the first-ever 50-state survey on Holocaust knowledge among Millennials and Gen Z. Titled the U.S. Millennial Holocaust Knowledge and Awareness Survey, it highlighted a lack of basic Holocaust knowledge, revealing that 11 percent of U.S. Millennial and Generation Z respondents believe Jews caused the Holocaust.
Additional statistics from the survey of Millennials and Generation Z: Sixty-three percent of all national survey respondents do not know that six million Jews were murdered. Florida was listed among the 10 states with the lowest Holocaust knowledge.
Mandate vs. law
Having a mandate to teach the Holocaust is different than having a law to develop a standard to teach it, said Laurie Cardoza-Moore, founder of Proclaiming Justice to the Nations.
PJTN is a 501c3 nonprofit that educates and mobilizes Americans to learn more about the textbooks in their children's schools. PJTN's mission it "to fight against anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic acts from all sources, and to educate Christians of their biblical duty to support and defend the Jewish people and the State of Israel." PJTN is also on the frontlines in the battle for the ideological, social, moral and civic mind of America's next generation. In 2019 Cardoza-Moore directed an ensemble of educational experts who drafted an exhaustive "White Paper Report on American Education" that exposed all the propaganda being taught to our children in public schools. The paper was submitted to the Office of Secretary of Education Betsy Davos. In 2020 PJTN launched "Taking Back America's Children" campaign to educate and activate parents as grassroots advocates for transparency in education. The campaign has also reached state legislators and education influencers to open their eyes to the threat to America's children through anti-American curricula designed to generate and push the indoctrination of socialism and radical liberalism in K-12 schools. These two endeavors are close to Cardoza-Moore's heart. As a mother who home-schooled her five children, she is highly invested in protecting our next generation of leadership in America, a generation she said "we cannot afford to lose."
Cardoza-Moore noted that two years ago DeSantis passed a law condemning anti-Semitism. "Unfortunately, the curriculum we are using is in violation of that law."
The Florida Department of Education called an emergency session to review the curriculum in history, geography and social studies textbooks. Cardoza-Moore was appointed by Gov. DeSantis' administration to the Review Board on Holocaust teaching and material standards for the State of Florida. This essentially means that the team she is part of will provide the blueprint of what has to be taught: It must be age appropriate and grade appropriate.
Southern Poverty Law Center
About five years ago, PJTN found itself listed on the Southern Poverty Law Center's "hate list." According to SPLC, PJTN was added to the list because of alleged "anti-Muslim statements." On Feb. 1, 2021, SPCL removed PJTN from its list.
"I am delighted that the Southern Poverty Law Center has agreed to take Proclaiming Justice to the Nations off their list," Cardoza-Moore said in a press release. "This entire fiasco was a misunderstanding that we were pleased to overcome through open dialogue with SPLC. Our organization exists to fight hate and prejudice and has done so successfully over a decade both at home and overseas."
When asked about the SPLC's accusation that PJTN is an "anti-Muslim hate group," Cardoza-Moore said it is "absurd." In fact, Cardoza-Moore participated in two conferences with Muslim women who came to the UN to ask Western women to assist them in obtaining their freedoms in their countries.
Holocaust education standards
Holocaust education in Florida has three groups of standards: K-5, Middle School and High School.
At first there were objections to teaching about the Holocaust to young children. It was considered "too aggressive."
Cardoza-Moore explained that the actual Holocaust would not be taught, but younger students would learn about their Jewish neighbors, the holidays, traditions, culture, music, and connect children to their Jewish classmates.
"That way, as we expand at each grade level until we get to Middle School where the Holocaust is introduced, the students will already have a relationship and it will become personal to them," she said.
What about doing this for Muslims and African-Americans?
"We already have African-American and Muslim education in our schools," Cardoza-Moore responded. "What we don't have is a focus on the role Jews played in the founding of our country." She then expounded on the Jews who served in the American Revolutionary War and the Civil War; and the influence of the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island whose warden, Moses Seixas, wrote to President George Washington to affirm the president's belief that anti-Semitism would not be tolerated in our country.
In the upper grades, Cardoza-Moore explained that the story of Purim, in which Himmler, who was second to Hitler, was no different than Haman - bringing ancient history into modern history.
"What we teach our children in school is critically important," Cardoza-Moore emphasized. "If we don't know the past, we aren't going to know the future. We have to know where we came from in order to understand where we're going."
Revising America's school textbooks
While home schooling her children, Cardoza-Moore discovered anti-American, anti-Judeo-Christian content in the textbooks. This revelation started her on the path of bringing awareness and change through every avenue she could reach. She is now a valued adviser to Tennessee state legislators in the review and correction of inaccurate and biased content in curriculum, including emphasis on civics/social studies, geography, history, and language arts.
A race against time
"If we don't get these textbooks out of our schools, our children are going to turn on our country," she said.
"It took only a decade for this to happen," she continued. "Look at how we've changed: We went from 9/11, 20 years ago, from young people enlisting to [now in 2020] burning down buildings, killing people, attacking cops."
Cardoza-Moore pointed out that the process of changing textbooks takes about six years from adopting new standards, the public voting on them, the publishers reviewing the standards and making changes.
"It's too long! They have to streamline the process ... we can't wait six years!" Cardoza-Moore stated emphatically.
Central Florida Chapter of PJTN
"We have to fight this battle on the local level. If we don't take back local control of our children's education, of our school boards, county commissions, of our state legislatures, the curriculum will never change," Cardoza-Moore said.
PJTN has a Chapter here in Central Florida. Donna Render is the liaison of this chapter. She is an attorney who is active in local and national political issues and attends Chabad of Greater Orlando in Maitland. Watching the rise of anti-Israel/ anti-Semitism sentiment spurred her into being an advocate for dispersing the truth regarding Israel and the Jews. Her advocacy brought her to PJTN.
To learn more about PJTN, the fight against anti-Semitism, changing student textbooks, and the Florida Holocaust teaching standards, visit pjtn.org.