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N.Y. school district apologizes for teacher's Nazi Germany assignment

By Rande Iaboni, CNN
updated 2:47 PM EDT, Sun April 14, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • English students get assignment from Albany, New York, teacher
  • They were asked to blame Jews for Nazi Germany's problems
  • It was part of persuasive writing project
  • District superintendent apologizes for "unacceptable" task

Albany, New York (CNN) -- An upstate school system apologized Friday after students got a writing assignment in which they were instructed to prove their loyalty to Nazi Germany by arguing Jews are "evil" and the source of that government's problems.

Students in three Albany High School English classes received the assignment, which was due Wednesday.

The assignment from the unidentified teacher was designed to flex students' "persuasive writing" skills.

But Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard, superintendent of the City School District of Albany, called the assignment "completely unacceptable."

"It displayed a level of insensitivity that we absolutely will not tolerate in our school community," Wyngaard said, "I am deeply apologetic to all of our students, all of our families and the entire community."

My Take: Nothing wrong with Nazi assignment

She told the Albany Times Union newspaper that one-third of the students refused to complete the work.

The teacher has not been in school since the district learned of the assignment.

The school district is considering disciplinary action, according to Ron Lesko, director of communications. Options include termination, but no decision has been made, Lesko said.

In the assignment, students were to pretend the educator was a member of the Nazi government.

"You must argue that Jews are evil, and use solid rationale from government propaganda to convince me of your loyalty to the Third Reich!" the teacher's assignment sheet said.

The assignment reiterated, "You do not have a choice in your position."

Wyngaard, according to the Times Union, said she did not believe the teacher acted with malice or "intent to cause any insensitivities to our families of Jewish faith." The assignment should have been worded differently, she said.

Wyngaard said the district has been in conversations with the Anti-Defamation League about future training programs for students and staff.

Earlier this year in New York City, a math homework assignment asked fourth grade students to tally the number of slaves on a ship, sparking outrage among parents and administrators.

From the archives: Thai school's Nazi-themed parade sparks outrage

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