A Southern California school district is up in arms this week after eighth-graders were given an assignment to research and write an essay explaining whether they believed the Holocaust was a real historical event or a political scheme to influence public emotion and gain. Once word of the assignment spread, groups like the Anti-Defamation League called or emailed their objection to the assignment. Yesterday, Rialto Unified School District spokeswoman Syeda Jafri responded publicly, saying that it was an "error."
An error? More like an egregious, extremely troubling, highly punishable (or so you'd think) move on the part of one or several teachers. And it's a case for parents to be well-aware of what's being asked of their kids in the classroom.
Teens are generally entitled to more independence when it comes to school assignments. Parents don't necessarily need to be on top of every single test or essay their middle or high schooler is being asked to do. In fact, it's better that they aren't helicoptering at this point, with only a few short years or less until college or work life begins. We shouldn't be babying our tweens or teens. But a situation like this only serves to remind us that being aware of what's going on, checking in, having a dialogue, and catching wind of anything remotely bizarro or "off" is still very important.
As for the Rialto fiasco, a team of teachers will meet to revise the assignment, according to Jafri, and any references to the Holocaust "not occurring" are apparently going to be stricken on any current or future argumentative research assignment. Meanwhile, Jafri reassured the public:
The Holocaust should be taught in classrooms with sensitivity and profound consideration to the victims who endured the atrocities committed. We believe in the words of George Santayana, those who cannot learn from history are bound to repeat it.
While it's good to hear, it also sounds like scary backpedaling. Parents are sure to be watching the situation closely. It's clear that those in the Rialto Unified School District and all over the country need to be to ensure those in charge of their kids' education aren't ever given the all-clear to step so severely out of line.
Have you ever had to speak up and get involved because you took issue with a subject matter or assignment given to your teen?
Image via Austin Evan/Flickr