Did School Administrator Instruct Teachers To Balance Holocaust Books With Books That Present An “Opposing” View? (UPDATE ADDED)
[guest post by Dana]
A top administrator with the Carroll Independent School District in Southlake 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. The training came four days after the Carroll school board, responding to a parent’s complaint, voted to reprimand a fourth grade teacher who had kept an anti-racism book in her classroom.
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. “And make sure that if you have a book on the Holocaust,” Peddy continued, “that you have one that has an opposing, that has other perspectives.”
“How do you oppose the Holocaust?” one teacher said in response.
“Believe me,” Peddy said. “That’s come up.”
Disagreeing with Peddy’s assessment of the bill and presenting his own opposing perspective was the bill’s author:
State Sen. Bryan Hughes, an East Texas Republican who wrote Senate Bill 3, denied that the law requires teachers to provide opposing views on what he called matters of “good and evil” or to get rid of books that offer only one perspective on the Holocaust.
“That’s not what the bill says,” Hughes said in an interview Wednesday when asked about the Carroll book guidelines. “I’m glad we can have this discussion to help elucidate what the bill says, because that’s not what the bill says.”
[Ed. Pressed for time, but this is part of a larger story that you can read about (and hear the audio of Peddy’s comments) at the above link. ]
UPDATE: Clearly feeling the need for damage control and clarification, the superintendent of Carroll Independent School District issued an apology concerning Gina Peddy’s comments and the bill’s directive:
In a statement shared on the Southlake district’s social media platforms, Ledbetter said the district “[recognizes] there are not two sides of the Holocaust.”
“As the superintendent of schools, 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,” the statement read. “As we continue to work through implementation of [House Bill] 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.”