The City School District of Albany Superintendent Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard spoke out against a controversial English writing assignment that had students argue why Jewish people are evil, saying it was "an unacceptable error in judgment" and that the teacher who issued it might be facing disciplinary action.
"You must argue that Jews are evil, and use solid rationale from government propaganda to convince me of your loyalty to the Third Reich!" an Albany High School English assignment read, referring to the Nazi government led by Adolf Hitler, responsible for the Holocaust and the deaths of millions of Jewish people during World War II.
The purpose of the exercise was to have students practice persuasive writing by using Nazi propaganda, Wyngaard revealed, but she noted that it should have been worded differently.
"The district is considering disciplinary action and there will be a consequence," Ron Lesko, director of Communications at City School District of Albany told The Christian Post in an email.
"However, there is a broad spectrum of consequences for the district to consider, including termination, but we are still working through that process and have made no determination at this time. The teacher has not been at work since we learned of this assignment," Lesko added.
The Times Union shared more information on the specific assignment, which read: "Review in your notebooks the definitions for logos, ethos, and pathos. Choose which argument style will be most effective in making your point. Please remember, your life (here in Nazi Germany in the 30's) may depend on it!"
At a news conference on Friday at the Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York offices in Albany, the superintendent said the insensitivity displayed by the lesson will not be tolerated in the school community.
"I am deeply apologetic to all of our students, all of our families and the entire community," Wyngaard said, insisting that diversity is highly valued in the district and that people of all races, religions and backgrounds are respected.
"We already had been in conversations with the Anti-Defamation League this week about future training programs for students and staff. I assure you that we will follow through on that commitment before this school year concludes," she said.
Last month, a Florida university professor stirred controversy after he instructed students to write the name "Jesus" on a piece of paper and step on it, as a way of teaching them about the meaning of symbols – though one student, a Mormon, objected and alerted local media of the lesson.