Assignment at Albany High: Explain Why ‘Jews Are Evil’

Apr 12, 2013


Albany, New York is making national headlines again - for all the wrong reasons.

In trying to find a way to "challenge" students, an English teacher at Albany High crossed a few lines, assigning pupils the task of writing a five-paragraph essay as to why "Jews are evil" - the source of "Germany's problems" - after they watched and read Nazi propaganda - in the framework of trying to convince a World War II era Nazi leader (their teacher) of their loyalty.  

About a third of the class flatly refused to pen the assigned document. Albany mayoral candidate and community leader Corey Ellis, a Democrat, says he was surprised to hear about the incident, but proud of the students who chose not to participate.

Albany Superintendent Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard issued an apology, explaining that the assignment should have been worded differently.

Democratic Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings, who served in Albany High administration and as a teacher before embarking on his political career, weighed in, remarking that "we have to make sure this never occurs again." Albany City Treasurer and candidate for mayor Kathy Sheehan, a Democrat, is on the same page, expressing her hope that the matter will be properly addressed by the school.  Rabbi Paul Silton of Temple Israel in Albany is also the President of the Holocaust Survivors and Friends Education Center. He issued a warning against propaganda, saying it can easily lead to genocide.
The Albany City school district did not disclose the identity of the English teacher and has not indicated what disciplinary measures, if any, will be taken.

It is unclear whether the teacher might face charges under New York's Dignity for All Students Act, which prohibits discrimination and harassment by other students or adults -- either on school property or at a school event.