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Texas School Official Tells Teachers to Present ‘Opposing’ Views on Holocaust

A Texas school administrator last week told teachers that a new state law would require them to present “opposing” perspectives when teaching about the Holocaust, according to audio recordings released by NBC News on Thursday.

The official from the Carroll Independent School District in Southlake, Texas, had convened a meeting to advise teachers on how to apply House Bill 3979, a recent law passed amid the debate over the place of critical race theory and other social issues in public school curricula.

“As you go through, just try to remember the concepts of [House Bill] 3979,” said Gina Peddy, Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction. “And make sure that if you have a book on the Holocaust that you have one that has an opposing — that has other perspectives.”

“How do you oppose the Holocaust?” one teacher asked.

“Believe me,” Peddy said. “That’s come up.”

The bill requires teachers to teach “widely debated” and “controversial” issues using multiple points of view. One teacher in the recording asked whether to remove “Number the Stars” by Lois Lowry from her class library.

On Wednesday, Texas State Senator Bryan Hughes, who wrote the bill, told NBC News that the law would not change how teachers instruct students on matters of “good and evil,” nor mandate them to censor books about the Holocaust if no “opposing” view is available. An updated version of the HB 3979, Senate Bill 3, takes effect in December.

“That’s not what the bill says,” Senator Hughes told NBC. “I’m glad we can have this discussion to help elucidate what the bill says, because that’s not what the bill says.”

Speaking anonymously, several Carroll teachers said district officials have poorly described the law.

“Teachers are literally afraid that we’re going to be punished for having books in our classes,” one said. “There are no children’s books that show the ‘opposing perspective’ of the Holocaust or the ‘opposing perspective’ of slavery. Are we supposed to get rid of all of the books on those subjects?”

Responding to the NBC report, Carroll Independent School District Superintendent Lane Ledbetter said “there are not two sides of the Holocaust.”

“I express my sincere apology regarding the only article and news story released today,” Ledbetter wrote on the Carroll Independent School District Facebook page. “During the conversations with teachers during last week’s meeting, the comments made were in no way to convey that the Holocaust was anything less than a terrible event in history. Additionally, we recognize there are not two sides of the Holocaust.”

“As we continue to work through the implementation of HB3970, we also understand this bill does not require an opposing viewpoint on historical facts. As a district we will work to add clarity to our expectations for teachers and once again apologize for any hurt or confusion this has caused.”

On Friday, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights nonprofit that promotes education about the Holocaust, said there should be no “validation for ‘alternative facts.’”

“In 2021, we live in an era when you are not only entitled to your own beliefs, but you can also create your own facts,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action. “And in our time, and no matter how outrageous the lie or slander, you can find validation for alternative ‘facts’ on social media.”

“Teachers have always been America’s frontline warriors for teaching core values to our children — chief among them critical thinking and discerning fact from fiction,” he continued. “That is no longer always the case. These individuals have turned historic fact into a multiple-choice question. This opens the door for denial and distortion not only of the Holocaust in our schools but of the history of our nation and the struggle against slavery and discrimination.”