Teacher who played Nazi put on leave

Teacher gives assignment to class: "If you lived in Third Reich, why would you hate Jews?"

Holocaust Survivor in NY, 2013, 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Allison Joyce)
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.
“You 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 problems.”
District spokesman Ron Lesko says that a third of students refused to complete the work. Roughly 75 students were given the instructions.
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 officials.
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 paper.
“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.