Photo: File / Michael Loccisano / Getty Images
A senior executive from the Carroll Independent School District in Southlake, Texas, advised teachers last week that if they have a book on the Holocaust in their classroom, they should also offer students access to a book from an ‘opposite’ perspective, according to an audio recording obtained by NBC News.
Gina Peddy, executive director of curriculum and instruction for the Carroll School District, made the comment Friday during a training session on what books teachers can keep in classroom libraries, according to a new texas law.
Peddy’s training came four days after the Carroll school board, responding to a parent’s complaint, voted in favor of reprimanding a fourth grade teacher who had a book against racism in your classroom.
A Carroll staff member secretly recorded Friday’s training and shared the audio with NBC News.
“Just try to remember the concepts of the [Proyecto de Ley de la Cámara] 3979, ”Peddy said on the recording, referring to a new texas law requiring teachers to present multiple perspectives when discussing “widely debated and currently controversial” topics.
“And make sure if you have a book on the Holocaust,” Peddy continued, “that you have one that has an opposite side, that you have other perspectives.”
“How do you oppose the Holocaust?” Asked a teacher.
“Trust me,” Peddy said. “That has been mentioned.”
Another teacher wondered aloud if she should throw out Lois Lowry’s “Number the Stars” or other historical novels that tell the story of the Holocaust from the perspective of the victims. It is unclear if Peddy heard the question amid the commotion or if he responded.
Peddy did not respond to NBC News messages requesting comment.
In a written response to a question about Peddy’s comments, Carroll’s spokeswoman, Karen Fitzgerald, said the district is trying to help teachers comply with the new texas law and an updated version that will go into effect in December, State Senate Bill 3.
“Our district recognizes that all teachers in Texas are in a precarious position with the latest legal requirements, “he wrote Fitzgerald, noting that the district’s interpretation of the new texas law requires teachers to provide balanced perspectives not only during classroom instruction, but also on the books that are available to students in class during free time.
Fitzgerald He said teachers who are unsure about a specific book “should visit their campus principal, campus team, and curriculum coordinators about the appropriate next steps.”
Clay robison, a spokesman for the Texas State Teachers Association, a union that represents educators, said there is nothing in the new texas law explicitly dealing with classroom libraries. Robison said the book’s guidelines in Carroll, a suburban school district near Fort Worth, are an “overreaction” and a “misinterpretation” of the law. Three other educational policy experts from Texas they agreed.
“We find it reprehensible for an educator to demand that a Holocaust denier receive the same treatment as the facts of history,” Robison said. “That’s absurd. It is worse than absurd. And this law does not require it ”.
The debate in Southlake about what books should be allowed in schools is part of a broader national movement led by parents who oppose lessons on racism, history, and LGBTQ issues that some conservatives have falsely branded as critical race theory.
A group of Southlake parents has been fighting for over a year to block new diversity and inclusion programs in Carroll, one of the highest-ranked school districts in Texas.
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