A Wednesday evening meeting which was meant to address a controversial eight-grade school assignment regarding the validity of the Holocaust was called an “epic fail” by a school board member and has a local assemblywoman calling for the “reeducating” of the youth who have been “misled” about facts surrounding the Holocaust “as a result of this assignment.”
The assignment, which was given to eighth graders by the Rialto Unified School District in San Bernadino County, was part of a “misguided” attempt to satisfy Common Core curriculum requirements in critical thinking. It asked the nearly 2,000 students assigned to evaluate whether the Holocaust–deemed the worst genocide of the 20th Century–really happened or if it was just a myth that was created for “political and monetary gain.”
Following emotional, personal speeches by Rabbi Hillel Cohn of Congregation Emanu El in Redlands and from Rabbi Suzanne Singer of Temple Beth El in Riverside, a reportedly choked up Rialto Unified School District board member Joseph Martinez said “It [the assignment] should have never happened… We have, in fact, had epic fails,” according to the Contra Costa Times.
Rabbi Cohn had displayed identification papers that were given to him and his family by Nazi guards labeling them as Jewish and Rabbi Singer said her mother was the lone survivor in her family of the Nazis’ mass executions.
One frustrated Pasadena-based attorney Neal Fialkow, who was also present at the board meeting, said the damage may already be done, notes the Times. Addressing the school board, he said “You’ve planted a seed of doubt… Congratulations. You’ve taken a[n] historical fact and made it a matter of opinion. What’s next, 9/11 never happened?” he posited. “Every single child now has been infected.”
Assemblywoman Cheryl R. Brown (D-San Bernardino) revealed that her own father had served during WWII and had helped to liberate the Aushwitz concentration camp in Poland. He had told her about the smell of burned bodies as a child, writes the Times. “As a result of this assignment, we must now deal with reeducating young people who have been misled by this district,” Brown told the school board.
The essays, which were obtained under the California Public Records Act, and published in a detailed piece by the San Bernarndino Sun, revealed dozens of students who, in their papers, cited websites which denied the Holocaust took place and even wrote dismissively about the horrific event.
One eighth grader dismissed the Holocaust as a hoax: “Based on the evidence from the source, it looks like the Holocaust was political propaganda.” Another student attempts to falsely discredit the event by writing that the gas chambers which took countless lives must not have existed: “If they would have even experimented these so called gas chambers the Nazis would have died also, so I do not believe in gas chambers.”
A copy of the public report can be found here.
It is still unclear whether the English Language Arts teachers behind the creation of the assignment will face disciplinary action.