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US Texas book controversy: School administrator told teachers to include Holocaust books with 'opposing' views when explaining new state law

11:19  15 october  2021
11:19  15 october  2021 Source:   cnn.com

Southlake, T, schools restrict classroom libraries after backlash over anti-racist book

  Southlake, T, schools restrict classroom libraries after backlash over anti-racist book Teachers in the Carroll Independent School District in Southlake, Texas, protested a new policy restricting books in classroom libraries.Administrators with the suburban school system outside Fort Worth told teachers this week that they would receive mandatory training on new districtwide rules governing books — and instructions for getting rid of any that don’t meet new content standards.

Teachers in the Carroll, Texas school district say they fear being punished for stocking classrooms with books dealing with racism, slavery and now the Holocaust . A Carroll staff member secretly recorded the Friday training and shared the audio with NBC News. “Just try to remember the concepts of [House Bill] 3979,” Peddy said in the recording, referring to a new Texas law that requires teachers to present multiple perspectives when discussing “widely debated and currently controversial ” issues.

A Texas school administrator instructed teachers during a training session to give students books with an " opposing " view , including when teaching about subjects such as the Holocaust . Gina Peddy, executive director with the Carroll Independent School District, was secretly recorded "Make sure that if, if you have a book on the Holocaust , that you have one that has an opposing , that has other perspectives," Peddy can be heard saying on the recording, referring to Texas House Bill 3979, which requires educators in the state to present other opposing views when it comes to discussing

A school district superintendent in North Texas apologized Thursday night after one of the district's administrators told teachers that if they have books about the Holocaust in their classroom libraries, then they should also include books that have "opposing" views of the Holocaust.

HOUSTON, TEXAS - AUGUST 23: A student takes notes during instruction at the Xavier Academy on August 23, 2021 in Houston, Texas. In-person classroom sessions are resuming and schools around Houston are requiring mask mandates, keeping in accordance with CDC guidelines. Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo has gone against Gov. Greg Abbott's statewide ban on mask mandates and has issued an order that requires face coverings to be worn in schools. All staff and faculty at Xavier Academy have been vaccinated and 90% of students in attendance have also been vaccinated. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images) © Brandon Bell/Getty Images HOUSTON, TEXAS - AUGUST 23: A student takes notes during instruction at the Xavier Academy on August 23, 2021 in Houston, Texas. In-person classroom sessions are resuming and schools around Houston are requiring mask mandates, keeping in accordance with CDC guidelines. Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo has gone against Gov. Greg Abbott's statewide ban on mask mandates and has issued an order that requires face coverings to be worn in schools. All staff and faculty at Xavier Academy have been vaccinated and 90% of students in attendance have also been vaccinated. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

At a training session last week, a school administrator with Carroll ISD in Southlake, Texas, tried to advise elementary school teachers on how to follow new district guidelines for the vetting of books. The guidelines were issued in an attempt to align with a controversial law in Texas that seeks to restrict discussion of race and history in schools.

Outrage as Texas school District Considers Holocaust Denial Books in Response Anti-Racism Crackdown

  Outrage as Texas school District Considers Holocaust Denial Books in Response Anti-Racism Crackdown "Holocaust denial has no place in our society," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted. "None."Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill into law earlier this year that is intended to combat the teaching of critical race theory. A recording obtained by NBC News captures a Carroll Independent School District administrator last week instructing teachers to comply with the new law by offering alternate opinions on topics like the Holocaust—despite mainstream views on the Holocaust not being opposed in any substantial or credible manner.

An administrator at a Texas school district, responding to new laws banning critical race theory, was heard on tape suggesting that now teachers should offer students access to an ' opposing ' perspective when teaching the Holocaust . The secret recording by a staff member captures Carroll On October 7, administrators told teachers in an email to close classroom libraries until they can be vetted by the teacher . Another email sent a rubric asking teachers to grade books based on whether they provide multiple perspectives and to set aside any that present one-sided narratives that may be considered

A school administrator told teachers who have books on the Holocaust in their classroom to also Teachers Need To Offer ‘ Opposing ’ Perspectives On Holocaust Due To New Critical Race Theory Law . Southlake school leader tells teachers to balance Holocaust books with ' opposing ' views

The training session was first reported by NBC News. After teachers expressed frustration and confusion over the new guidelines, Gina Peddy -- executive director of curriculum and instruction for the district -- invoked the Holocaust as an example of a historic event that would require a teacher to keep on hand other books with "opposing" views.

Audio of the exchange was secretly recorded by a staff member and obtained by CNN. CNN has reached out to Peddy for comment but has not gotten a response back.

"Just try to remember the concepts of (Texas House Bill) 3979," Peddy says, referring to the new law, known as HB 3979. "And make sure that if you have a book on the Holocaust, that you have one that has opposing, that has other perspectives."

Texas school leader tells teachers to 'balance' Holocaust books with opposing views

  Texas school leader tells teachers to 'balance' Holocaust books with opposing views A top administrator in Southlake, Texas, last week advised teachers that if they have a book about the Holocaust, they should have a book from an "opposing" perspective, NBC News reported, citing an audio recording.Gina Peddy, Carroll Independent School District's executive director of curriculum and instruction, made the comment during a training session on which books were allowed in classroom libraries. A staff member secretly recorded the meeting and shared it with NBC.

NEW : A school administrator in Southlake, Texas , advised teachers last week that if they have a book about the Holocaust in their classroom, they should also have a book with an " opposing " perspective. And it followed the passage of a new Texas law that requires teachers who discuss “widely debated and currently controversial issues of public policy or social affairs” to examine the issues from diverse viewpoints without giving “deference to any one perspective”. At the training, Peddy advised teachers to remember the requirements of the new law , according to the audio.

A top administrator with the Carroll Independent School District in Southlake, Texas , advised teachers last week that if they have a book about the Holocaust in their classroom, they should also offer students access to a book from an “ opposing ” perspective, according to an audio recording obtained by NBC News. Gina Peddy, the Carroll school district’s executive director of curriculum and instruction, made the comment Friday afternoon during a training session on which books teachers can have in classroom libraries.

"How do you oppose the Holocaust?" one teacher could be heard asking.

"Believe me," Peddy said in a longer recording obtained by NBC. "That's come up."

The exchange, according to a source who was there, happened in a hallway amid a smaller group of staff after the training session had ended.

A report by NBC News on the comment sparked an uproar on social media, and the district's superintendent, Lane Ledbetter, issued an apology to the community:

"I express my sincere apology regarding the online article and news story released today. During the conversations with teachers during last week's meeting, the comments made were in no way to convey that the Holocaust was anything less than a terrible event in history. Additionally, we recognize there are not two sides of the Holocaust," the statement read.

"As we continue to work through implementation of HB 3979, we also understand this bill does not require an opposing viewpoint on historical facts. As a district we will work to add clarity to our expectations for teachers and once again apologize for any hurt or confusion this has caused," it said.

Teachers told to offer books with 'opposing' Holocaust views

  Teachers told to offer books with 'opposing' Holocaust views SOUTHLAKE, Texas (AP) — A Texas school district administrator told teachers that if they have books about the Holocaust in their classrooms, they should also have books that offer “opposing” or “other” viewpoints on the subject. Gina Peddy, the executive director of curriculum and instruction for the Carroll Independent School District in Southlake, which is in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, issued the directive last week during a training session about which books teachers can have in their classroom libraries. A staff member secretly made an audio recording of the training session and shared it with NBC News, which broke the story.

A Texas school district administrator suggested that teachers covering the Holocaust should assign a book that has “other perspectives.” NBC News obtained audio of the comments made by Gina Peddy, executive director of curriculum and instruction for the Carroll Independent School District in Southlake, Texas . The teachers , one of whom said she was “terrified,” pressed Peddy for specifics on how to comply with the state legislation. “Just try to remember the concepts of 3979,” Peddy responded. “And make sure that if, if you have a book on the Holocaust that you have one that has an opposing , that

A Texas school administration leader was recorded telling teachers to balance out their classroom libraries with books with " opposing " perspectives, including those on racism and the Holocaust , NBC News reported Thursday. Gina Peddy, who serves as the executive director of curriculum The school district implemented guidelines in light of Texas House Bill 3979, a new Texas law requiring teachers who are discussing "widely debated and currently controversial " during class to "explore such issues from diverse and contending perspectives without giving deference to any one perspective."

State law was catalyst for discussion

At the heart of the incident is confusion over the law which limits conversations about race and history in schools.

Laws introduced in state legislatures such have these have been driven largely over the potential teachings of critical race theory, a hot-button issue for some parents.

Critical race theory recognizes that systemic racism is part of American society and challenges the beliefs that allow it to flourish. While the theory was started decades ago as a way to examine how laws and systems promote inequality, it has taken on new urgency since a series of killings last year of Black Americans by police officers, which led to a national reckoning on race.

Critics have slammed the theory, with conservatives accusing it of poisoning discussions on racism.

HB 3979 in Texas, which was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott and took effect on September 1, states that a teacher may not be compelled to discuss "a particular current event or widely debated and currently controversial issue of public policy or social affairs."

Texas residents rip teachers on Holocaust remark: 'There are not two sides to a genocide'

  Texas residents rip teachers on Holocaust remark: 'There are not two sides to a genocide' Jewish residents in Southlake, Texas, were among 50 plus who took offense to the district's "two sides" to the Holocaust stance at a board meeting.Jake Berman was among more than 50 community residents and former students who criticized the school district after its top administrator, Gina Peddy, last week advised teachers in a meeting to provide students with books that covered "opposing" perspectives of the Holocaust. Peddy was citing a Texas law that requires teachers to provide students with multiple perspectives when discussing controversial topics.

If a teacher does engage in that kind of discussion, the teacher is required to "explore such issues from diverse and contending perspectives without giving deference to any one perspective."

Carroll ISD had previously issued the rubric for teachers on how to vet the books in their classroom libraries, but many teachers found it confusing, the source told CNN. Several teachers were also upset about a fourth-grade teacher being reprimanded by the district's school board just days earlier for having "This Book Is Anti-Racist" by Tiffany Jewell in the classroom, the source said.

The reprimand, which came after a parent complaint, made national news and contributed to a sense of deep frustration among some teachers, especially since the new Texas law addresses curriculum, not classroom libraries.

At the meeting last week, teachers were vocal about their concerns, according to the source in the room.

"The teachers were so angry," the source said. "They stood up and yelled and fought back in a way that was frightening but also empowering."

The source said teachers raised multiple questions at the meeting about the new vetting guidelines and after receiving mixed messages from the district over whether to keep their classroom libraries open during the vetting process. Peddy, according to the source, went to seek clarification from other administrators. Peddy returned and, after the training session was over, made the Holocaust example in the hallway as teachers were leaving.

Teaching 'opposing views' of the Holocaust is the latest effort to rewrite history

  Teaching 'opposing views' of the Holocaust is the latest effort to rewrite history Holocaust denial is part of a broader effort to create a celebratory version not only of U.S. history but of Western civilization. Its proponents embrace American exceptionalism, believe in manifest destiny, excuse the removal of Native Americans, and play down slavery and Jim Crow. Holocaust denial fits well into this narrative. The United States did not perpetrate the genocide, but it has a history of antisemitism, which has increased in recent years.

According to audio played for CNN, Peddy pledged to stand by the teachers as they began the vetting process.

"I know you feel like you're being put at risk, I do know that. Just leave them open," she said, referring to the classroom libraries. "Look through the whole book, but leave your libraries open while you do it. I know that you have the best interests of your kids in mind and we're going to stand behind you."

Clay Robison, spokespeson for the Texas State Teachers Association said he was angered by the comments made in the audio recording about including opposing views of the Holocaust.

"I was angry," he said in a phone interview with CNN. "But, also, I wasn't terribly surprised."

Robison noted that while the law does not specifically deal with books in teachers' classrooms or specifically require a teacher to give equal weight to perspectives that deny the Holocaust, he said the law has enough ambiguity to "encourage that kind of reaction."

Robison said the Texas State Teachers Association has long opposed the bill because it is open to misinterpretation and can cause confusion for educators. Robison said teachers across the state are "angry" and fear consequences over the books they include in their classrooms.

"It doesn't require these teachers to pull these books off their shelves, but it certainly encourages parents who don't like those books -- who feel uncomfortable with those books -- to put pressure on their school boards and their school administrations to...pull the books off."

Since the law took effect six weeks ago, Robison said the incident in Southlake is just one example of the confusion and frustration that he expects to see as the school year continues, not to mention the expected political battles.

"School board presidents run for election. And this is an issue that could figure very prominently in school board elections, particularly conservative communities," he said.

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