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Holocaust assignment at California school severely criticized

A Holocaust assignment made at a California school has drawn a fire of criticism from critics of the assignment that was given to young students. Jewish rights groups, in particular, condemned an assignment given to 8th grade students which instructed them to argue whether the Holocaust actually happened, according to a Chicago Tribune report on Tuesday. Specifically, the students were asked to write an essay on whether the Holocaust was merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain.

Graduation at a Rialto school district school in California

Rialto Unified School District students near Los Angeles were given the assignment. The criticism was first noted from a Jewish human rights group named the Simon Wiesenthal Center. According to the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s associate dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the assignment mistakenly provides moral equivalency between history and bigotry. Historically, debate about the veracity of the Holocaust by the mainstream public is practically unheard of in the United States. Of course, an estimated 6 million Jewish persons died in the horrific event that occurred in the 1940s.

Following publicity regarding the assignment made at the school, death threats were made. The death threats were made against a school system spokesperson as well as an interim superintendent, according to the Rialto Police Department and reported upon by the Huffington Post. Following the media-released stories on the assignment, the Rialto school district took to its website to address the criticism and concerns.

The school district’s website referred to its response as a clarification. The statement says that there was no offensive intent in the Holocaust assignment given to the 8th graders. It attempted to explain that the assignment was supposed to exercise the use of critical thinking skills. Teachers who gave the assignment are reportedly going to revise the assignment - or simply drop the assignment entirely.

Problems with assignments like this have been prominent in education for some time. Traditionally, teachers would teach about the Holocaust in social studies or history classes. Writing essays would occur in English classes. With the hell-bent efforts to melt all academic areas into one pot – such as having students writing critical-thinking essays in Social Studies about the Holocaust – the lessons are often lost and problems like the Rialto school district are now having rightfully occur. Many educators believe integration of lessons – forced upon them by administration – has gone too far for too long.

Another Holocaust story made the news on Monday when Tennessee State Sen. Stacey Campfield compared the Holocaust to Obamacare. In his comparison, he said that like Holocaust victims, many Americans are being forced to sign up for a health care program they don’t want. Campfield has been called upon to apologize but refuses to do so – as he stands by his anti-Obamacare statement.

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