December 8, 2021

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Southlake teachers told to include ‘opposing’ views if providing books on Holocaust, NBC reports – The Dallas Morning News

3 min read

A Southlake Carroll schools leader recently told teachers that, should they have a book about the Holocaust in their classroom, they should also have materials that show an “opposing” perspective, NBC News reported.

The news outlet — which has chronicled the deeply divisive fight in Southlake over how to teach race and racism in schools — obtained an audio recording from a district meeting that included discussions about how to comply with a new Texas law, which lawmakers say was intended to bar “critical race theory” from classrooms.

From the start, educators vehemently opposed the bill, saying it was vague and would have a chilling effect on their ability to have honest conversations about America’s past and present.

The new law — similar to ones passed in other conservative states —  lists several broad topics that can’t be discussed and sets guidelines for talking about “controversial” subjects. It comes as conservative pundits and politicians have conflated critical race theory with schools’ diversity and inclusion efforts and anti-racism training, among other ideas.

“Just try to remember the concepts of [House Bill] 3979,” Gina Peddy, a Carroll administrator, said in the recording obtained by NBC News. “And make sure that if you have a book on the Holocaust, that you have one that has an opposing, that has other perspectives.”

A teacher responded: “How do you oppose the Holocaust?”

The author of a similar Senate bill, Sen. Bryan Hughes, denied that this was a proper interpretation of the new law.

State Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, wrote on Twitter that “Southlake just got it wrong.”

“School administrators should know the difference between factual historical events and fiction,” Hancock wrote. “No legislation is suggesting the action this administrator is promoting.”

A district spokeswoman did not immediately return a call requesting comment. In a statement to NBC News, Karen Fitzgerald said the district “recognizes that all Texas teachers are in a precarious position with the latest legal requirements.”

“Our purpose is to support our teachers in ensuring they have all of the professional development, resources and materials needed. Our district has not and will not mandate books be removed nor will we mandate that classroom libraries be unavailable,” she said.

The comments stirred outrage. Texas Democratic Party Co-Executive Director Hannah Roe Beck condemned actions she called “terrifying.”

“We’re seeing books banned, educators reprimanded for teaching authentic history, and kids deprived of their right to learn about the world they’re growing up in,” she said in a statement. “Texas Republicans are censoring education to pander to rightwing extremists — and putting Texas families and kids in danger while they do.”

The DMN Education Lab deepens the coverage and conversation about urgent education issues critical to the future of North Texas.

The DMN Education Lab is a community-funded journalism initiative, with support from The Beck Group, Bobby and Lottye Lyle, Communities Foundation of Texas, The Dallas Foundation, Dallas Regional Chamber, Deedie Rose, The Meadows Foundation, Solutions Journalism Network, Southern Methodist University and Todd A. Williams Family Foundation. The Dallas Morning News retains full editorial control of the Education Lab’s journalism.

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