SOUTHLAKE, Texas – The principal and Carroll Independent School District in Southlake warned teachers last week that if they have a textbook about the Holocaust in their classroom, they should give students access to the book from “opposing” perspectives, according to a recording video obtained by NBC News.
Gina Peddy, Carroll School district director, said this Friday afternoon during a training session on textbooks that may have teachers in the classroom libraries. The training came four days after Carroll’s school board, in response to a parent’s complaint, voted to reprimand a fourth-grade teacher who had kept an anti-racism book in her classroom.
For more on this topic, check out NBC’s “Night News with Lester Holt” tonight at 6:30 pm ET / 5: 30 pm CT.
A Carroll employee secretly recorded Friday’s training and shared the video with NBC News.
“Just try to remember the ideas of [House Bill] 3979. “And make it a point that if you have a book about the Holocaust,” continued Peddy, “that you have another contradiction, with a different view.”
“How do you protest the Nazi death?” one such teacher responded.
“Thank you,” Peddy said. “Come there.”
One teacher wondered aloud whether he should pull down “Read the Stars” by Lois Lowry, or other historical figures who tell the story of the Holocaust from the perspective of victims. It is unclear whether Peddy heard the question in the background or answered it.
Peddy did not respond to text messages asking to speak. In a written reply to a question about Peddy’s comments, Carroll spokeswoman Karen Fitzgerald said the district is trying to help teachers comply with the country’s new law and with a revised version that will take effect in December, Texas Senate Bill 3.
“Our state recognizes that all Texas teachers are in a precarious position with current legal requirements,” Fitzgerald wrote, noting that the regional interpretation of Texas’s new law requires teachers to provide equal views not only during class instruction, but in textbooks available to students in class during free time. “Our mission is to support our coaches in ensuring that they have the knowledge to improve, equipment and requirements. Our jurisdiction has not even approved textbooks to be removed or ordered that training libraries be made unavailable. ”
Fitzgerald said teachers who are unsure about a specific book “should visit with their campus superintendent, campus team and course planners about the next steps.”
Clay Robison, spokesman for the Texas State Teachers Association, a coalition representing teachers, said there was nothing in Texas’s new law that clearly deals with classroom libraries. Robison said the textbook guidelines in Carroll, a town school district near Fort Worth, were “extreme” and “misinterpretation” of the law. Three other Texas law experts agreed.
“We find it inconvenient for a teacher to have to deny that he or she rejects Holocaust the same amount of medical treatment as in history,” Robison said. “It doesn’t make sense. Worse than nonsense. And this law does not require that. ”
State Sen. Bryan Hughes, an East Texas Republican who drafted Senate Bill 3, has denied that the law requires teachers to give conflicting views on what he calls “good and bad” things or to remove books that only offer Holocaust views.
“That’s not what the law says,” Hughes said in an interview Wednesday when asked about Carroll’s book guidelines. “I am pleased that we can hold this conference to help clarify what the law says, because that is not what the law says.”
Carroll’s six teachers – including children who were in the room to hear what Peddy was saying – spoke to NBC News on condition of anonymity, fearing they would be punished for openly discussing their concerns. He said district leaders had sent mixed messages about which books were appropriate in the classrooms and what steps they should take.
“Teachers are really afraid that we will be punished for having textbooks in our classroom,” said the primary school teacher. “There are no children’s books that show ‘anti-Holocaust views or’ anti-Hellenistic views’ of slavery. Do we have to get rid of all the books on these things? ”
The debate in Southlake over which books should be allowed in schools is part of a larger national party led by parents who oppose racist studies, history and LBBT issues that some conservatives have deceived themselves as heretics. A group of Southlake parents have been fighting for more than a year to block various programs and mergers from Carroll, one of the top schools in Texas.
Late last year, one of those parents complained when her daughter brought home a copy of “This Book Against Race” by Tiffany Jewell from her fourth-grade library. The mother also complained about the teacher’s treatment of her concerns.
Carroll management reviewed and decided to challenge the teacher’s discipline. But last week, October 4, Carroll’s school board voted 3-2 to change the district’s position and reprimanded the teacher legally, creating tension among Carroll’s teachers who said they feared the board would not protect them if a parent complained about a textbook in their classroom.
Teachers became even more concerned about last Thursday, October 7, when Carroll’s manager sent an email urging them to close their class libraries “until they were cleared by the teacher.” An email sent to teachers that day included a blog asking them to create books based on whether they offer more ideas and set aside anything that provides a text, a great discussion “in such a way …