ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The superintendent of an upstate New York school district is apologizing for a high school English teacher who gave a writing assignment that asked students to make a persuasive argument blaming Jews for the problems of Nazi Germany.
Albany Superintendent Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard said Friday the assignment was completely unacceptable. She said administrators were discussing what official action the unidentified 10th-grade teacher at Albany High School will face for the assignment given to students on Monday. It could range from a letter of counsel to dismissal.
Vanden Wyngaard spoke at a news conference at the United Jewish Federation flanked by school board officials and representatives of Jewish organizations. Speakers said the Anti-Defamation League will run sensitivity programs at the school.
Officials say they don't believe the teacher had malicious intent.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
A high school English teacher could face disciplinary action for giving a writing assignment that asked students to make a persuasive argument blaming Jews for the problems of Nazi Germany, Albany school district officials said Friday.
School district spokesman Ron Lesko said administrators were discussing what official action the 10th-grade teacher at Albany High School could face for the assignment given to students on Monday.
The assignment, first reported Friday by the Albany Times Union, asked students to research Nazi propaganda, then assume their teacher was a Nazi government official who had to be convinced of their loyalty. The assignment told students they "must argue that Jews are evil."
A third of the students refused to complete the assignment.
Superintendent Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard said she doesn't believe the teacher who handed out the assignment had malicious intent. The purpose of the assignment was to have students make an argument based on limited information, but it should have been worded differently, she said.
"I don't believe there was malice or intent to cause any insensitivities to our families of Jewish faith," the superintendent told the newspaper.
Vanden Wyngaard scheduled a news conference Friday afternoon at the United Jewish Federation to discuss the controversy.
The school district has not named the teacher.
Lesko said the assignment was brought to administrators' attention by a parent of one of the students.
The teacher's assignment told students they "must argue that Jews are evil, and use solid rationale from government propaganda to convince me of your loyalty to the Third Reich!"
Earlier this year, a teacher at Public School 59 in Manhattan caused a controversy by giving fourth-graders a math homework assignment that used scenarios about killing and whipping slaves. The school's principal ordered sensitivity training for the entire staff.