A new Texas law requiring schools to provide opposing views to books in their classroom libraries caused a commotion when a school administrator suggested that reading material from another perspective was necessary if a book on the Holocaust was in a classroom.
In an audio recording, Gina Peddy, the Carroll Independent School District executive director of curriculum and instruction, is heard telling teachers at a training session last week that the mandatory teaching of opposing perspectives included the Holocaust, the genocide of about 6 million Jews by Nazi Germany in World War II.
“Make sure that if you have a book on the Holocaust that you have one that has an opposing, that has other perspectives,” Ms. Peddy says in the recording, first reported by NBC News.
“How do you oppose the Holocaust?” one teacher asked.
“Believe me,” Ms. Peddy said. “That’s come up.”
The training session was in response to a parent’s complaint about a fourth-grade teacher who kept an anti-racism book in her classroom library.
The training is in accordance with a new Texas law, House Bill 3979, that requires teachers to offer several points of view when discussing “widely debated and currently controversial” issues.
At this point, the teachers began to ask pointed questions about what would qualify. One teacher asked if “Number the Stars” by Lois Lowry, a book about the Holocaust from victims’ perspective, would qualify.
In response to the uproar over Ms. Peddy’s remarks, the school board said the teachers were trying to live up to the spirit of the new law.
“Our district recognizes that all Texas teachers are in a precarious position with the latest legal requirements,”
Karen Fitzgerald, spokeswoman for Carroll Independent School District, said in a statement. “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.”
Teachers who are not certain about any book “should visit with their campus principal, campus team and curriculum coordinators about appropriate next steps,” Ms. Fitzgerald said.
State Sen. Bryan Hughes, an East Texas Republican who was involved in crafting the new law, rejected the notion that it required teachers to provide opposing views on issues of “good and evil” or to ban books that give just one perspective on the Holocaust.
“That’s not what the bill says,” Mr. Hughes told NBC News. “I’m glad we can have this discussion to help elucidate what the bill says, because that’s not what the bill says.”