Wednesday, April 5, 2017

N.Y. education chief under fire over comment on assignment asking students to argue for Nazi extermination of Jews - The Washington Post

N.Y. education chief under fire over comment on assignment asking students to argue for Nazi extermination of Jews - The Washington Post:

N.Y. education chief under fire over comment on assignment asking students to argue for Nazi extermination of Jews

The education commissioner of New York State, MaryEllen Elia, is in hot water over a controversy about an assignment given to high school students to argue for or against the “Final Solution,” the extermination of the Jewish people by the Nazis in World War II.
A parent-teacher-student organization in New York is calling for her resignation after she was quoted by a reporter saying that she could understand high school students being asked to write an essay arguing for or against the Holocaust because it could foster critical thinking. A few days later she retracted it, saying she didn’t realize that such a paper had actually been assigned.
The executive board of the Hastings-on-Hudson PTSA sent a letter (see text below) to the Board of Regents, which hired Elia in 2015 to head the state’s Education Department, saying that her later apology was not enough. Asked about the letter on Wednesday, the New York State Education Department provided a statement saying:
“The assignment was wrong. It crosses a line that should never be crossed. I spoke with district officials about this serious matter. The teacher apologized and the assignment will not be used in the future.
“We are working to make sure this type of incident is not repeated in future. We have partnered with the BOCES and Alan Goldberg, Professor Emeritus at Syracuse University’s School of Education, who with community input, will develop materials to help educators teach students about the Holocaust in a respectful manner. Once the materials are ready, NYSED will share the resources with school districts and teachers across the state.”
According to Syracuse.com, two non-Jewish high school students in Oswego, N.Y., reported feeling “weird” in February when their teacher made the assignment in an English class taken through an Oswego County Center for Instruction, Technology and Innovation (CiTi)/ Board of Cooperative Educational Services New Vision program. It provides college-level career-focused education and hands-on learning to high school students. Syracuse.com, which talked to the students, said in a story initially posted March 30 that the assignment (which you can see in full here) specifically says it is “not for you to be sympathetic to the Nazi point of view.”
The assignment asked students to imagine that they were attending the 1942 Wannsee Conference in Germany, where Nazi leaders met to discuss and plan implementation of the extermination of the Jews.  They were to write an essay arguing for or against it, and the assignment said:
Ultimately, this is an exercise on expanding your point of view by going outside your comfort zone and training your brain to logistically find the evidence necessary to prove a point, even if it is existentially and philosophically against 
N.Y. education chief under fire over comment on assignment asking students to argue for Nazi extermination of Jews - The Washington Post:


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