A high school English teacher could face disciplinary action for giving a writing assignment that asked students to make a persuasive argument blaming Jews for the problems of Nazi Germany, Albany school district officials said Friday.
School district spokesman Ron Lesko said administrators were discussing what official action the 10th-grade teacher at Albany High School could face for the assignment given to students on Monday.
The assignment, first reported Friday by the Albany Times Union, asked students to research Nazi propaganda, then assume their teacher was a Nazi government official who had to be convinced of their loyalty. The assignment told students they "must argue that Jews are evil."
A third of the students refused to complete the assignment.
Superintendent Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard said she doesn't believe the teacher who handed out the assignment had malicious intent. The purpose of the assignment was to have students make an argument based on limited information, but it should have been worded differently, she said.
"I don't believe there was malice or intent to cause any insensitivities to our families of Jewish faith," the superintendent told the newspaper.
Vanden Wyngaard scheduled a news conference Friday afternoon at the United Jewish Federation to discuss the controversy.
The school district has not named the teacher.
Lesko said the assignment was brought to administrators' attention by a parent of one of the students.
The teacher's assignment told students they "must argue that Jews are evil, and use solid rationale from government propaganda to convince me of your loyalty to the Third Reich!"
Earlier this year, a teacher at Public School 59 in Manhattan caused a controversy by giving fourth-graders a math homework assignment that used scenarios about killing and whipping slaves. The school's principal ordered sensitivity training for the entire staff.
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