New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia reversed her stance endorsing a controversial assignment from earlier this year that had asked students to argue both sides on the Holocaust’s directive to exterminate Jews en masse.
A teacher in New York’s Oswego County had asked students to put themselves in a Nazi leader’s shoes and argue for or against the “Final Solution” to exterminate the Jewish people, Syracuse.com reported.
“I think it’s certainly a question where you want students to think on both sides and analyze…which position a person is taking,” Elia had said. “That idea of being able to identify the perspective an article has or a writer has is a very important skill.”
Elia’s statement drew widespread criticism from both Jewish and state government officials.
The Anti-Defamation League’s education director in New York, Beth Martinez, said “no assignment should ever be given that even hints at there being two sides to the Holocaust.”
Elia backtracked Monday, saying the assignment should have never been given.
“Since first learning of the assignment, I’ve done my homework to determine the facts in this situation,” Elia said. “I spoke with district officials about this serious matter. We agree the assignment should not have been given. The teacher apologized and the assignment will not be used in the future.”