U.S. News


School Cancels Assignment Involving Holocaust Denial

The Rialto Unified School District assigned students a writing prompt to discuss whether the Holocaust actually occurred.
Posted at 9:12 AM, May 06, 2014

A school district in California gave students an assignment that has many parents upset. Students were to write whether the Holocaust actually even occurred. 

AMY POWELL: "The school district says the purpose of the assignment is to help students develop critical thinking skills. The assignment reads quote 'some people think the Holocaust is not an actual historical event.'"

MATTHEW FRIEDMAN: "It's not a debate." (Via KABC)

The writing prompt, assigned to eighth grade students at Rialto Unified School District, went on to say some believe the Holocaust was a political scheme "to influence public emotion and gain."

KAREN PERRY: "It is a weird question, because obviously it did happen."

KCAL REPORTER: "Perry is a concerned parent with a student in the Rialto school district."

WOMAN: : "I was horrified and stunned, and I could not believe that this could happen in the city I go to church in."

The assignment was supposed to teach the nature of propaganda. But some got so heated over it, as KNBC notes, school officials even received death threats. Officers stood outside the school Monday. 

So maybe the assignment was intended as that, but one problem is that students can come across anti-Semitic propaganda in their research. Some thought the assignment also implied the Holocaust might not have happened. 

District officials are now admitting it was a mistake - noting in this press release:

"The intent of the writing prompt was to exercise the use of critical thinking skills. There was no offensive intent in the crafting of this assignment. We regret that the prompt was misinterpreted." 

The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin explains the assignment was given in April to an estimated 2,000 eighth graders. The assignment itself was made by some teachers for that same grade.

The Nazis killed millions of Jewish and Roma people, gay people, Jehovah's Witnesses and other "undesirables" as part of the Holocaust between 1933 and 1945.