A sixth-grade teacher at a Washington, D.C., middleschool is in deep water after assigning students to make comparisons between former president George W. Bush and Adolf Hitler in a class project.
According to local media, the educator at McKinleyMiddleSchool sent students home with a Venn diagram with instructions to compare and contrast Hitler and Bush, stating that “both men abused their powers.”
The assignment prompted complaints from at least one parent, who said that it showed disrespect for the office of the president, according to WRC-TV.
A copy of the assignment, made by the parent and posted on social media, instructs students to draw examples from two texts they were assigned and to fill in a Venn diagram with similarities and differences between the two men.
“Now that we have read about two men of power who abused their power in various ways, we will compare and contrast them and their actions,” the assignment reads. “Please refer to your texts, ‘Fighting Hitler â€” A Holocaust Story’ and ‘Bush: Iraq War Justified Despite No WMD’ to compare and contrast former President George W. Bush and Hitler. We will use this in class tomorrow for an activity!”
According to the Washington Times, the parent, who asked the paper not to be named, said he called the school office to complain and was told that the assignment was part of a curriculum unit approved by the school system. He said his sixth-grader’s class had been studying both the Holocaust and the Iraq War.
“I think trying to compare Adolf Hitler to an America president is just not right,” the parent told the paper. “I didn’t agree with Mr. Bush or his policies, but that was over the line.”
A spokeswoman for D.C. Public Schools told the Washington Times that the two readings had been approved but that the texts were not meant to be compared as assigned by the teacher.
“The teacher deeply regrets this mistake, and any suggestion to malign the presidency or make any comparison in this egregious way,” school system spokeswoman Melissa Salmanowitz said.
In a written statement, D.C. Public Schools said that the teacher acknowledged poor judgment and will apologize to students. The instructor’s name was not released.
The full statement follows:
“The District of Columbia Public Schools provides teachers with an English-Language Arts curriculum that outlines the topics, texts, and standards to be taught within instructional units, while allowing teachers the flexibility to decide the best approach and day-to-day lessons for their students. One of the units at the beginning of the year is about War and Peace, allowing students to explore different perspectives and determine when conflict is warranted, and when peace should prevail. This week, a DCPS teacher created a worksheet to assign as homework which asked students to compare and contrast President George W. Bush and Adolf Hitler, after reading two texts. No DCPS curriculum materials suggest in any way that teachers should compare the texts in this manner or compare Hitler to any other individual. One text, “Fighting Hitler â€” A Holocaust Story” is part of the current suggested materials. The text about President Bush is not suggested as part of the current year’s curriculum, but was included last year in a separate unit. The teacher deeply regrets this mistake, and any suggestion to malign the presidency or make any comparison in this egregious way.
“The teacher admits to extremely poor judgment and short sightedness and will apologize to students. The school will also send a letter home to families explaining the incident and offering to address any additional questions should they arise.”
Matthew Diebel, USA TODAY