Pretty sure genocide doesn’t need to be defended.
Last week, during an online teacher training, a school administrator in Texas advised teachers that they should have books with “opposing views” to the Holocaust in their classroom during a teacher training meeting. She mentioned it casually, as if children should obviously have Mein Kampf story time before recess. A staff member leaked a recording of the meeting to NBC, and everyone — from AOC to other teachers — rightfully freaked out. The Carroll Independent School District superintendent apologized about this transparently ignorant suggestion, but the reality is that the asinine law that spawned this whole debacle is still on the books. So now what?
“Just try to remember the concepts of [House Bill] 3979,” Gina Peddy, the Carroll school district’s executive director of curriculum and instruction, said to a group of teachers. “And make sure that if you have a book on the Holocaust that you have one that has an opposing, that has other perspectives.” How is it that teachers should be given such patently ridiculous professional guidance?
Well, as if bigotry wasn’t already enough of a problem in American education, it’s now basically the law in Texas. The Texas law Peddy referred to was enacted on September 1st and requires that the books in classrooms and libraries show multiple perspectives when discussing “widely debated and currently controversial” issues. Do I really need to point out that we shouldn’t be feeding impressionable young minds material that defends genocide?
While it feels just to blame the entire school district (or, sigh, the state of Texas), teachers present at the training seemed equally flabbergasted by Peddy’s suggestions.“How do you oppose the Holocaust?” one teacher asked. “Believe me, that’s come up,” Peddy replied, NBC reported. At this point, the Zoom turned into a cacophony of incredulity. Teachers wondered aloud if they would have to pull Lois Lowry from their shelves and it’s not clear whether Peddy even attempted to respond. She also has not responded to requests for comment.
On Thursday, Lane Ledbetter, superintendent of the Carroll ISD, apologized for the incident on Facebook. “We recognize that there are not two sides of the Holocaust,” Ledbetter wrote, adding that HB3979 “does not require an opposing viewpoint on facts.” The truth is, though, that HB3979 is clearly making the issue of teaching history confusing for everyone involved. That’s because the law itself is not actually meant to help teachers guide students towards nuanced and varied perspectives — it’s meant to limit what they are able to teach.
HB3979 is a law that governor of Texas Greg Abbot signed which basically prevents teachers from talking about race in any meaningful way after the recent controversy about Critical Race Theory (CRT) in schools. Let’s just set aside the reality that CRT is widely misunderstood by its detractors.
A reminder: CRT is, in fact, not a curriculum, but instead a framework for understanding how racism operates in different contexts like, say, within a state’s legal system as it attempts to strictly control what children are permitted to learn about an ethnic massacre. HB3979 is essentially a book ban rooted in racism meant to ensure that the history of the oppressors continues to reign, and as far as I can imagine, this sad incident is just the beginning of the educational travesties this country will face if we continue to allow such clearly problematic legislation.