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State Regents Looking To Keep Lessons From The Holocaust, WWII Relevant For New York Students

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- New York's board of regents wants students to learn more about the Holocaust and World War II.

A newly appointed task force will work to change the curriculum to better reflect how the effects of the war still linger to this day. Namely, the sharp increase in anti-Semitic attacks across the city create painful reminders for WWII veteran Harry Arlin.

"As a non Italian Jew, they put me in a concentration camp in southern Italy," he told CBS2.

At the Museum of American Armor, State Regent Roger Tilles is creating a program that will determine how to better teach students about the war and the Holocaust.

"In fact, the schools many times that need it the most, the kids that need it the most are in schools that don't have it," Tilles said.

Each school district determines its own history curriculum. In some schools, lessons about WWII may only last 90 minutes.,

"Every year there's more information that comes forward, so it becomes where it's a very, very broad curriculum," Hauppauge School District Director of Social Studies Doreen Gordon said. "You don't necessarily get the time to delve into the topics that are really important to make America what it really is."

The advisory task force, including historians and educators, will recommend changes to the curriculum which districts won't be obligated to implement. The regents can create a strong incentive by changing certain questions on the state exam.

"Not having an understanding of the war, to be ignorant of what could happen to a country by chance," WWII veteran Martin Gerber said.

Gerber was drafted into the Army's signal corps. Now, he's standing arm-in-arm with veterans like Arlin.

"Unless you've lived it, you don't know what it was like," Arlin said.

For many it took decades to share their pain and now, they want to make sure a new generation never forgets.

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