Holocaust Survivor in NY, 2013, 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Allison Joyce)
NEW YORK – A 10th-grade English teacher in Albany, New York, has been placed on
leave after asking students to put themselves in the mind-set of Jew-loathing
Nazis in the days leading up to World War II.
The teacher, who has not
been named by district officials, gave multiple writing assignments to students
asking them to describe why they would hate Jews if they lived in the Third
Reich. The assignments followed numerous classes focusing on Nazi propaganda,
with students being asked to imagine the teacher as a Nazi official.
need to pretend that I am a member of the government in Nazi Germany,” read an
assignment, “and you are being challenged to consider that you are loyal to the
Nazis by writing an essay convincing me that Jews are evil and the source of our
District spokesman Ron Lesko says that a third of students
refused to complete the work. Roughly 75 students were given the
Albany’s public schools superintendent, Marguerite Vanden
Wyngaard, issued an apology only after a local news reporter for the Times Union
of Albany published the assignment and presented it to local
She explained that the school’s new curriculum emphasizes
persuasive, argumentative writing techniques, and that this was an assignment in
that spirit gone way too far.
The assignment clarified to students that
they had no choice in what position to take in the fiveparagraph
“Obviously, we have a severe lack of judgment and a horrible level
of insensitivity,” said Vanden Wyngaard, who met with Jewish leaders in Albany
to reinforce the public apology tour. “That’s not the assignment that any school
district, and certainly not mine, is going to tolerate.”
According to The
Daily Beast, Albany's population is roughly 2% Jewish.