Date of Graduation
Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy (PhD)
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
The Holocaust was the attempted extermination of the Jewish people--a fact previously considered to be common knowledge. However, recent national surveys find that Arkansas students have the lowest levels of knowledge of the Holocaust in the United States. A recent law mandated the teaching of the Holocaust for 5-12th grade public school students in Arkansas, however, little is known about the policy process and implementation of such a mandate. Given the magnitude of the gaps in the literature on this topic, this dissertation uses a three article format to address specific gaps and make specific contributions to the literature by addressing three following research questions: (1) what does the current literature say about Holocaust education policy for grades K-12 in the United States? (2) How did Holocaust education legislation pass in Arkansas? And, (3) How interculturally aware are Arkansas teachers, and do they hold any antisemitic biases? First, we know very little about state Holocaust education policy, not only in Arkansas, but really of any states in the United States. The gap is a national gap in knowledge for the United States, so a scoping review was used for the first article, to understand what the literature says about Holocaust education policy for K-12 in any state. The findings from this article indicate that what little research exists on the topic is not centered in public policy, but rather in teacher education. Thus, this article offers a unique contribution to the field of public policy, adding the social justice component of re-centering policies on historically marginalized communities. Building on this knowledge, the second article makes a unique contribution to the field of public policy with a case-study of the stakeholders involved in passing the Holocaust education mandate in Arkansas. Findings indicate that a grassroots coalition of Jewish activists, inspired by a Holocaust survivor, engaged faith and political communities to pass Holocaust education legislation, despite having less than 2,000 Jews in the entire state. Finally, the third article addresses the question of implementation, and how interculturally aware Arkansas teachers are, exmainig if they hold any antisemitic bias. Not only have previous studies not examined a relationship between antisemitic bias and intercultural competence, but this has never been examined in teachers tasked with implementing Holocaust education. There was a strong relationship between antisemitic bias and a lack of cultural competence, which makes sense—if one expresses more bias and hatred towards one group, they would likely have lower cultural competence. Findings indicate that the sample of Arkansas teachers in this study were not interculturally competent, and many hold antisemitic views. While these are concerning results, this was a small sample, and reinforces a conclusion of all three articles: more research is needed on this topic. Each of these three articles offer independent contributions, however, when taken together, there is an understanding of the lack of attention given to Holocaust education and the concerning pitfalls of doing so. There are simply too many gaps in knowledge at such a critical moment of policy passage and implementation to warrant a one-article dissertation, necessitating a three-article format to ensure a strong contribution could be made to the literature.
Klein, T. L. (2023). Holocaust Education in Arkansas: An Exploration of Policy Process and Implementation. Graduate Theses and Dissertations Retrieved from https://scholarworks.uark.edu/etd/4892