In the middle of all the news headlines about nuclear war threats from North Korea, Congress’ epic budget failures and gun control legislation, an item about an Albany high school writing assignment could get lost.
A teacher there asked students to make a persuasive argument blaming Jews for the problems of Nazi Germany. Yes, seriously this happened last week.
The Albany Times Union reports the assignment was as follows: “You must argue that Jews are evil, and use solid rationale from government propaganda to convince me of your loyalty to the Third Reich!”
A third of the students refused, obviously using their “good solid rationale.”
The school district’s superintendent reportedly apologized, saying the teacher in question didn’t have malicious intent.
This is just one of several outrageous “assignments” that have made the news lately. Another New York-area teacher gave students math homework that included examples about killing and whipping slaves to 9-year-olds. One question involved a ship with 3,799 slaves. “One day, the slaves took over the ship. 1,897 are dead. How many slaves are alive?” it asked.
Although the teachers involved in that incident were disciplined, this was later explained as an exercise in blending social studies and math.
News like this makes us wonder how anyone in education could think these assignments were not malicious. An essay supporting Nazi Germany and its extermination of millions is unconscionable and unthinkable. Basic math involving slaves, the way teachers might use apples or jelly beans, should also raise all kinds of red flags.
We already know the failures of the U.S. education system. American children are not learning as they should. Schools are more dangerous and chaotic than they should be.
Students are often punished for ridiculous things like mimicking a gun with their fingers and saying “Pow!” Students in Washington state were punished in padded isolation chambers for “behavioral disabilities.” Students in Mississippi can be suspended for having on the wrong color socks. And yet, teachers come up with these kinds of assignments? And go without punishment?
Remember the days when there was a strong sense of right and wrong in our schools? When teachers set examples — not functioned as the offending examples?
There seems to be a remarkably high level of a lack of good judgment in America and our schools reflect that. While we belabor being politically correct, we don’t use common sense.
Some say common sense cannot be taught, obviously today’s educators are not even making an effort.