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Queens Chronicle

Too young to know what 9/11 means

On three days’ notice, NYC schools comply with Remembrance Day law

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Posted: Thursday, September 12, 2019 10:30 am | Updated: 12:05 pm, Thu Sep 19, 2019.

The next election in November will mark the first time people who were not born the day the Twin Towers came down can vote.

Eighteen years after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the memory of that dark day is still strong among those who were there to see it.

But concern is growing that a new generation of youngsters who did not experience it firsthand should be taught what happened.

A new law, sponsored by state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) and Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Rockaway Beach) and signed into law Monday, mandates that schools observe a moment of silence on 9/11 to commemorate those who were killed.

The new Sept. 11 Remembrance Day law went into effect immediately. In addition to the moment of silence, it mandates a discussion at the start of the school day.

The quick turnaround for the New York City school system did not pose a problem, officials said.

“The Governor of New York signed a bill yesterday requiring every public school in New York State to observe a brief period of silence with their students at the opening of the school day on September 11 each year,” city Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza wrote in a directive to all 1,700 school prinicipals.

“We ask all principals to enact this requirement tomorrow.

“Additionally, we encourage all schools to engage in classroom/school-wide discussions on 9/11, allowing our students to ask questions, and share their thoughts and feelings on these events.

“We have gathered some age-appropriate resources to assist with this, which are available here.”

Elsewhere in the state, there were some concerns from parents about what schools would tell their youngest students about the attacks on New York and Washington, DC.

Addabbo and officials from the Governor’s )ffice in Albany met by phone Tuesday morning to work out the details of implementing the law on just three days’ notice.

“My intention was never to force it on young children,” Addabbo told the Chronicle.

They quickly decided to make the moment of silence and “appropriate” discussion requirement apply only to high schools this year, Addabbo said.

Statewide, elementary and middle schools were given until next year to devise a set of guidelines for teachers.

“There have always been schools that did it,” said the lawmaker.

“This is just a way of the saying that those who were lost that day and those who risked their lives to save others should be recognized,” he said.

“It’s important.”

“Soon enough there will be no students in the national public school system born at the time of 9/11,” Pheffer Amato said in her statement.

“By mandating a brief moment of silent reflection every year, we may ensure that future generations will better understand this day and its significance in our history,” she said.

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