New Jersey teacher, principal on paid leave after student's report on Hitler's 'accomplishments'
Category: News & PoliticsVia: texan1211 • 2 weeks ago • 1 comments
By: Nicholas Katzban (MSN)
TENAFLY, N.J. - A teacher and the principal of a New Jersey elementary school have been placed on paid leave pending a district investigation into a controversial assignment that led to an 11-year-old student writing an essay from the perspective of Adolf Hitler.
In a letter sent Thursday to parents at Maugham Elementary School, Tenafly Public Schools Superintendent Shauna DeMarco said the assignment violated the district's curriculum and "an attempt to individualize the project resulted in the student receiving misguided instruction from the teacher."
DeMarco added the school erred in hanging the essay publicly in the school, which brought notice to the assignment. A parent posted a photo of the essay online, eliciting outrage toward the school, but also the child who wrote the essay and their family.
"This has had a devastating impact on the student involved and their family, who have been thrown into turmoil through no fault of their own," DeMarco wrote, adding, "It has also been incredibly painful for our Jewish community members in the face of increasing instances of anti-Semitism around the country."
DeMarco acknowledged the district failed in its initial response to the blowback.
Administrators are still investigating the incident and the teacher and principal will remain on administrative leave until the Tenafly Board of Education is able to implement a course of action based on the district's findings.
The district also aims to meet with local Jewish leaders to develop a Holocaust education program for Tenafly schools, according to a source with knowledge of the plan.
The project at the heart of the controversy asked a fifth grade class to write biographies from the perspective of historical figures who "personify good or evil," according to a statement issued by the district's school board earlier this week.
Students were asked to discuss how their subject may have rationalized their actions, the board said.
The short essay on Hitler was displayed in the school among others from the project for weeks, but after an image of the essay was shared online, parents and other community members expressed outrage.
However, some groups, such as the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, have called for tempers to calm, saying the child and their family had no antisemitic intentions, and noted they have suffered from an outpouring of "misdirected" vitriol, which spread on social media.
"My greatest accomplishment was uniting a great mass of German and Austrian people behind me," the essay states in its opening, as seen in a widely disseminated photograph.
After noting that Hitler rose to the title of Germany's fuhrer in 1934, the student wrote one of the essay's more controversial passages, saying, "I was pretty great, wasn't I?"
"My belif [sic] in antisemitism drove me to kill more than 6 million Jews," the paper concludes.
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This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: New Jersey teacher, principal on paid leave after student's report on Hitler's 'accomplishments'