Saturday, January 18, 2014


January 17, 2014
New York State Social Studies Framework Committee
Knights and Daughters of Vartan
Revisions to the Resource Guide
It has come to our attention that the Social Studies Resource Guide with Core
Curriculum is in the process of being revised, and this letter is intended to address
specifically, section 10.5e in the Grades 9 - 12 section. The statement in question is
listed under “Human atrocities and mass murders occurred in this period.”
The statement reads,
“Students will examine the atrocities against either the Armenians or the
Ukrainians and the Holocaust.”
We assume the teacher will have the option of choosing to discuss either the Armenian
Genocide or the Ukrainian Holodomor - Famine Genocide, but discussion of the
Holocaust is a given. One must ask the question, “Why is there discrimination toward
one or the other?” “Why not include both topics, along with the Holocaust?
As way of background, I retired in 1999 as Director of Music for the Shenendehowa
Central School District, after a career of 37 years as a music teacher and administrator.
In 2003, I embarked on a project which consisted of visiting schools (at the invitation of
the school district), as well as church and community organizations, for the purpose of
discussing the “Armenian Genocide.”
On March 29, 2006, I was invited to attend a workshop sponsored by the Capital District
Council for the Social Studies, held at Shaker High School, and talk on the topic of
“Armenian Culture and the Armenian Genocide.” While I was pleased to have the
opportunity to “educate” my colleagues on the aforementioned topic, I was also taken
back by the lack of knowledge they possessed on the topic. I was therefore not
surprised when I went into the schools and discovered how little the students
themselves knew about the Armenian Genocide. Yet, when the topic of the “Holocaust”
came up, the students were able to immediately make an association.
Noted Armenian scholar and author Peter Balakian referred to the Armenian Genocide
of 1915-1923, as the first major genocide of the 20th century, as well the template for
the Holocaust, since there are so many similarities between the two events.
Noted American scholar Jared Diamond referred to the massacre of 5 - 10 million
Ukrainians at the hands of Stalin, from 1932-1933 as “The worst mass killings anywhere
in the Russian-dominated USSR. The loss of life has been compared to the Holocaust.
We urge the committee to include both events equally, not exclusively, as topics to be
included in the revised Curriculum Guide, and doing so, will give the students more
insight into, not only the Holocaust, but other genocides that followed the Holocaust.
“We study the past to better understand the present and the future.”
In closing, we respectfully reiterate our plea that both the Armenian Genocide and the
Ukrainian Famine-Genocide be included, along with the Holocaust, in section 10.5e of
the forthcoming revision. The Armenian and Ukrainian communities are prepared to
assist the State Education Department in identifying resources for both the teachers and
students to reach this goal.
Ralph Enokian
111 Wilkins Avenue
Albany, NY 12205
(518) 489-1304

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