A D.C. public school gave a sixth grade class a homework assignment that required students to draw comparisons between former President George W. Bush and Adolf Hitler.
The assignment was given out this week at McKinley Tech Middle School in Northeast and has angered at least one parent who complained about the homework.
A copy of the assignment, made by the parent, instructs students to draw examples from two texts they were assigned and to fill in a Venn diagram with similarities and differences between the two men.
“Now that we have read about two men of power who abused their power in various ways, we will compare and contrast them and their actions. Please refer to your texts, ‘Fighting Hitler — A Holocaust Story’ and ‘Bush: Iraq War Justified Despite No WMD’ to compare and contrast former President George W. Bush and Hitler. We will use this in class tomorrow for an activity!” reads the text at the top of the assignment.
The parent, who asked not to be named, said when he called the school office to complain he was told that the assignment was part of a curriculum unit approved by the school system. He said his sixth-grader’s class had been studying both the Holocaust and the Iraq war.
“I think trying to compare Adolf Hitler to an American president is just not right,” the parent said. “I didn’t agree with Mr. Bush or his policies, but that was over the line.”
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A spokeswoman for D.C. Public Schools said the two readings were among suggested curriculum the school system had previously approved but that the texts were not meant to be compared in the manner assigned by the teacher.
“The teacher deeply regrets this mistake, and any suggestion to malign the presidency or make any comparison in this egregious way,” spokeswoman Melissa Salmanowitz said.
The text about Hitler is part of the current suggested curriculum and the text about Mr. Bush was part of last year’s curriculum, Ms. Salmanowitz said.
She said the school would send letters home to inform parents of the incident and that the teacher involved, who admitted to “extremely poor judgment and short sightedness,” would apologize to students.
Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson late Wednesday tweeted, “No DCPS curriculum says to make these comparisons in any way. A deeply apologetic teacher used poor judgment & will apologize to students.”