A California school district landed in hot water after assigning students to write an essay debating whether the Holocaust happened.
According to the Inquistr, Southern California's Rialto Unified School District asked eighth-graders to “write an argumentative essay, based upon cited textual evidence, in which you explain whether or not you believe this was an actual event in history or merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain wealth… ”
A spokeswoman for the school district said Monday that an academic team was meeting to revise the assignment.
“This was a mistake. It should be corrected. It will be corrected,” district spokeswoman Syeda Jafri told KTLA in an interview. “We all know it was real. The Holocaust is not a hoax. … I believe our classroom teachers are teaching it with sensitivity and compassion.”
Jafri initially defended the assignment, telling the Los Angeles Daily News: “There is no doubt the Holocaust was one of the most horrific, traumatic time-pieces in our history. We want our students to engage in developing critical thinking skills and have an in-depth perspective on the importance of the Holocaust. Although I received one email last week in reference to this subject, the district has not received any concerns about this writing prompt from any teachers, administrators or parents. However, due to its sensitive nature, we are always open to go back and examine the prompt.”
But school district officials have since received death threats during a phone call from a man who claimed to be nearby, Jafri told KTLA.
The Los Angeles-based Anti-Defamation League spoke out against the district, with associate regional director Matthew Friedman saying that such an exercise is “dangerous,” and “only gives legitimacy to the hateful and anti-Semitic promoters of Holocaust Denial.”
He adds: “ADL does not have any evidence that the assignment was given as part of a larger, insidious, agenda. Rather, the district seems to have given the assignment with an intent, although misguided, to meet Common Core standards relating to critical learning skills.”
"They assured us that they are 'taking every step to assure that [the district] will revise its prompt and the words/implications of the Holocaust not existing be stricken,'" the group said.