Albany teacher under fire for assigning essay on why 'Jews are evil'
The controversial assignment was given to students at Albany
High School as preparation for a planned class reading of the
memoir 'Night' by Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.
Students were told to research Nazi propaganda and to imagine that they are living in the Nazi Germany of the 1930s, and write a letter to the Nazi government to convince them that “Jews are evil and the source of our problems.”
“Review in your notebooks the definitions for logos, ethos, and pathos,” the assignment said. “Choose which argument style will be most effective in making your point.”
The assignment sparked a wave of public criticism. The teacher, whose name has not been disclosed, was put on leave after the case went public.
On Friday, District Superintendent Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard held a news conference to apologize for the assignment, which “displayed a level of insensitivity that we absolutely will not tolerate in our school community,” she said.
Many of the students felt deeply uncomfortable with the assignment, and some refused to write the essay.
“I was putting it off because I didn't want to think about it and I didn't want to say anything bad about Jewish people," one of the students was quoted by the Times Union newspaper as saying. "We thought it would make more sense if we were Jews arguing against Nazism," she said, adding that she felt "horrible" when she turned in her essay.