A Texas school administrator last week told teachers to balance books about the Holocaust with “opposing” perspectives, according to an audio recording obtained by NBC News.
Gina Peddy, the executive director of curriculum and instruction at the Carroll Independent School District in Southlake, Texas on Friday said the balance was necessary under Texas House Bill 3979, a new law requiring teachers to provide multiple perspectives when discussing “widely debated and currently controversial issues.”
“Just try to remember the concepts of [House Bill] 3979,” Peddy said. “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?” a teacher questioned in the audio.
“Believe me,” Peddy said. “That’s come up.”
“That’s not what the bill says”:
The Texas law, which is aimed at countering the teaching of racism throughout the country’s history, has sparked confusion among school districts.
“Our district recognizes that all Texas teachers are in a precarious position with the latest legal requirements,” said a district spokesperson. “Our purpose is to support our teachers in ensuring they have all of the professional development, resources and materials needed. Our district has not and will not mandate books be removed nor will we mandate that classroom libraries be unavailable.”
Clay Robison, a spokesman for the Texas State Teachers Association, said the law does not include bans on books and called the Carroll guidelines an “overreaction” and a “misinterpretation” of the law.”
“We find it reprehensible for an educator to require a Holocaust denier to get equal treatment with the facts of history,” Robison said. “That’s absurd. It’s worse than absurd. And this law does not require it.”
Texas State Sen. Bryan Hughes, who wrote the bill, agreed “that’s not what the bill says.”
Teachers “literally afraid”:
Multiple Carroll teachers told NBC News that they are worried they will be punished for teaching history.
“Teachers are literally afraid that we’re going to be punished for having books in our classes,” an elementary school teacher 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?”
After the report, the school district said on Facebook that the advice to teachers was “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,” the post said. “As we continue to work through implementation of HB 3979, we also understand this bill does not require an opposing viewpoint on historical facts.”