A senior school administrator in the Lone Star State was recorded telling educators that if they’re going to keep books about the Holocaust in their classrooms, they must also stock material representing “opposing” views or “other perspectives.”
NBC News has obtained a recording that it says features Carroll Independent School District executive director of curriculum and instruction Gina Peddy explaining to teachers that House Bill 3979 requires them to offer alternative information when it “comes to widely debated and currently controversial.” That, by her account, includes the systematic execution of millions of people — mostly Jews — at the hands of the Nazis during World War II.
“Make sure that if you have a book on the Holocaust that you have one that has an opposing, that has other perspectives,” Peddy said.
When one teacher asks, “How do you oppose the Holocaust?” Peddy replied, “Believe me, that’s come up.”
A teacher can be heard saying educators are “terrified” of changes being made statewide, for which Peddy said she was sympathetic. She acknowledged teachers are caught up in a “political mess” and that they have her support.
The recording reportedly came from a training session in Southlake that took place after a fourth-grade teacher was reprimanded when one of her students brought home a book called “This Book Is Anti-Racist,” which upset the child’s mother.
Several Texas education policy experts agreed Peddy was misrepresenting the nature of the new guidelines.
“We find it reprehensible for an educator to require a Holocaust denier to get equal treatment with the facts of history,” Texas State Teachers Association spokesman Clay Robison told NBC. “That’s absurd. It’s worse than absurd. And this law does not require it.”
An East Texas state senator who wrote Senate Bill 3, an updated version of the House bill that goes into effect next month, also told NBC, “That’s not what the bill says.”
A spokeswoman for the suburban Fort Worth district where the meeting was recorded said, “Our district has not and will not mandate books be removed nor will we mandate that classroom libraries be unavailable.”
She said teachers who are unsure about specific books should consult their school’s principal for direction. The district also said last week’s meeting was not planned in conjunction with the rebuke of the fourth-grade instructor.
NBC spoke to a half-dozen Southlake teachers under the agreement of anonymity. They expressed concern about being disciplined over reading material they provide to kids.
“There are no children’s books that show the ‘opposing perspective’ of the Holocaust or the ‘opposing perspective’ of slavery,” one educator said. “Are we supposed to get rid of all of the books on those subjects?”
The recording of Peddy’s comments ends with teachers discussing privately what they had just experienced.
“They don’t understand what they have done,” one educator said. “And they are going to lose incredible teachers, myself potentially being with them.”
The latest drama in Texas comes amid conservative protests to “critical race theory,” which the Texas Tribune calls “an academic discipline that holds that racism is inherent in societal systems that broadly perpetuate racial inequity.”
Academic experts reportedly accuse some Republican leaders misrepresent the academic framework of CRT and the extent to which it’s even being taught. It has become a rallying point of right-wing media outlets including Fox News.
Copyright (c) 2021, New York Daily News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.