NY Bill Would Teach Students How 9/11 Led To ‘Xenophobia’

In this Sept. 14, 2001 file photo, President George W. Bush puts his arm around firefighter Bob Beckwith while standing in front of the World Trade Center in New York during a tour of the devastation. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says former President Bush will be among the dignitaries at a World Trade Center site ceremony to mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. (AP Photo/Doug Mills, File)

Lawmakers in New York State are considering new legislation that seeks to broaden the educational curriculum regarding the September 11, 2001 attacks. The bill, put forward by Assembly Member Catalina Cruz of Elmhurst, aims to instruct K-12 students on the broader implications of the tragic events, including their role in stoking xenophobia and Islamophobia in the United States.

Introduced in December, the proposed legislation mandates the New York State education commissioner to develop a comprehensive 9/11 “awareness curriculum” tailored to the requirements of individual school districts across the state.

The curriculum is expected to be age-appropriate and cover various themes. Importantly, it would address how the attacks have influenced societal issues such as Islamophobia, xenophobia, and changes in domestic and foreign policies, media portrayal, and public sentiment, according to the language of the bill. The legislation also highlights the importance of discussing the subsequent rise in hate crimes and discrimination that occurred in the aftermath.

The educational material, as stated in the bill, can be integrated into the social studies curriculum or presented in other suitable formats as determined by individual schools.

Currently under review by the New York State Assembly’s Education Committee, there has not been an announcement on whether a committee hearing is scheduled for the bill. Inquiries to Assembly Member Cruz’s office from the group Crisis in the Classroom (CITC) have not received a response.

New York’s schools are obliged to hold a moment of silence each year on September 11, a remembrance that former Governor Andrew Cuomo enshrined into law in 2019. This statutory moment of silence is intended to provoke discussion and learning about the state’s experience with and response to the attacks.

Assembly Member Stacey Pheffer Amato of South Queens, a sponsor of the current law, emphasized at the time of passage that this act ensures the profound significance of 9/11 in New York State history is not lost on future generations.

“With no student in grades K-12 today having been alive during 9/11, it is crucial that our schools take the necessary time to educate them about the loss and acts of heroism of that day,” said Assembly Member Amato. “An annual moment of silent reflection ensures the events and their impact are preserved in our collective memory.”

This legislative push in New York comes as part of a larger movement for 9/11 education nationally. In September, Congressional representatives, predominantly from New York, crafted a bipartisan resolution urging all states to incorporate discussion on the 9/11 attacks into school curriculums. Currently, only 14 states have such a requirement, as stated in the resolution.