A 10th grade English teacher in Albany, New York, may face disciplinary action for a controversial writing assignment.
The students were told to research Nazi propaganda, and then imagine that the instructor was a Nazi government official. Then they were told that they “must argue that Jews are evil, and use solid rationale from government propaganda to convince me of your loyalty to the Third Reich!”
The AP reported that one third of the students in the class refused to complete the assignment. The school board was notified when one of the parents contacted the administrators to complain about the ill-conceived assignment.
Superintendent Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard stated, “I don’t believe there was malice or intent to cause any insensitivities to our families of Jewish faith.’
Vanden Wyngaard said the exercise reflects the type of writing expected of students under the new Common Core curriculum, the tough new academic standards that require more sophisticated writing. Such assignments attempt to connect English with history and social studies…
She said she understood the academic intent of the assignment — to make an argument based only on limited information at hand. Still, she acknowledged that it was worded in a very offensive manner. She did not identify the English teacher or discuss whether the educator faced any discipline.
Students were asked to make a rhetorical argument, drawing on previous lessons in crafting an opinion. (source)
Wyngaard spoke at a news conference Friday at the United Jewish Federation, where she said, “This assignment for some of our students at Albany High School was completely unacceptable. It displayed a level of insensitivity that we absolutely will not tolerate in our school community. I’m deeply apologetic to all of our students, all of our families and the entire community.”
Wyngaard spoke in a room full of books on the Holocaust and was flanked by school board officials and representatives of Jewish organizations. Speakers said the Anti-Defamation League will run sensitivity programs at the school for staff and students.
“After this unfortunate lesson we know that the Albany School District will rededicate themselves to teaching about how prejudice led to genocide and to help their students build a better community,” said Shelly Shapiro, director of the Holocaust Survivors & Friends Education Center. (source)
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