A Texas administrator told teachers that if they have books about the Holocaust in their classrooms, they also need to offer books on an “opposing” view
A new Texas law is forcing teachers to make impossible choices about the books they offer their students. That was made clear when a call between an administrator and teachers at a school was recorded, showing teachers’ confusion and frustration about how they’re supposed to “balanced” and “opposing” views on subjects like the Holocaust and slavery.
Gina Peddy, the Carroll Independent School District’s executive director of curriculum and instruction, was recorded during a training call with teaches explaining new requirements about classroom libraries.
“Just try to remember the concepts of [House Bill] 3979,” Peddy said in the recording, referring to a Texas state law that requires teachers to present multiple perspectives whenever they teach “widely debated and currently controversial” issues.
Peddy continued, “And make sure that if you have a book on the Holocaust, that you have one that has an opposing, that has other perspectives.”
Teachers on the call quickly asked the obvious question here: “How do you oppose the Holocaust?”
“Believe me,” Peddy said. “That’s come up.”
A spokesperson for the school district told NBC that administrators are stuck in the impossible position of trying to help teachers abide by the new Texas law.
“Our district recognizes that all Texas teachers are in a precarious position with the latest legal requirements,” she said. “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.”
Clay Robison, a spokesman for the Texas State Teachers Association, the local union that represents teachers, certainly didn’t mince words.
“We find it reprehensible for an educator to require a Holocaust denier to get equal treatment with the facts of history,” he said. “That’s absurd. It’s worse than absurd.”
A number of teachers who were on the training call spoke to NBC anonymously, for fear that they would be punished for speaking out. They said they’re receiving mixed messages from administration and other leaders about what actions they need to take to comply with the new law.
“Teachers are literally afraid that we’re going to be punished for having books in our classes,” one elementary teacher said, pointing to an incident just days ago when another teacher was reprimanded for having a book on anti-racism in the classroom. “There are no children’s books that show the ‘opposing perspective’ of the Holocaust or the ‘opposing perspective’ of slavery. Are we supposed to get rid of all of the books on those subjects?”
On the training call, Peddy acknowledged that Texas teachers are put in an impossible position by the new law.
“We are in the middle of a political mess,” she said. “And you are in the middle of a political mess. And so we just have to do the best that we can.”