A top administrator in a Texas school district advised teachers last week to give students access to books containing an “opposing” perspective to literature about the Holocaust, NBC News reports.
“Just try to remember the concepts of [House Bill] 3979,” Gina Peddy, executive director of curriculum and instruction ar the Carroll Independent School District, said in a recording obtained from a staff member who attended the meeting. “And make sure that if you have a book on the Holocaust,” Peddy continued, “that you have one that has an opposing, that has other perspectives.”
One teacher asked, “How do you oppose the Holocaust?,” to which Peddy responded, “Believe me. That’s come up.”
HB 3979 serves to restrict schools from teaching about critical race theory, which examines how racism has shaped America, its laws, and society as a whole. The law was positioned as a measure that would require instructors offer various perspectives on “widely debated and currently controversial” issues.
These remarks were made during a training session regarding which books can be made available to students in their classroom libraries. The meeting comes after a parent complained about a teacher’s response to concerns over her fourth grade child bringing home a book titled, “This Book Is Anti-Racist” by Tiffany Jewell.
District administrators ruled that the teacher shouldn’t be punished following an investigation into the parent’s complaint, but the school board later overturned that decision, and formally reprimanded the instructor. The reverse in course has made other teachers in Carroll understandably worried about facing a similar fate, especially since they’re already having a difficult time navigating through the uncertainty surrounding the new law.
Another teacher in the meeting asked if they would need to remove books about the Holocaust containing historical accounts of actual events, such as “Number the Stars” by Lois Lowry. Peddy didn’t answer the question.
The uneasiness over what will and will not be allowed under this new law has teachers wondering if books about these issues should even be made available to students at all.
“Teachers are literally afraid that we’re going to be punished for having books in our classes,” an elementary school teacher told NBC News. “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?”