Southlake school leader tells teachers to balance Holocaust books with ‘opposing’ views

Teachers in the Carroll school district say they fear being punished for stocking classrooms with books dealing with racism, slavery and now the Holocaust.

(WSLS 10)

SOUTHLAKE, Texas – A top administrator with the Carroll Independent School District in Southlake advised teachers last week that if they have a book about the Holocaust in their classroom, they should also offer students access to a book from an “opposing” perspective, according to an audio recording obtained by NBC News.

Gina Peddy, the Carroll school district’s executive director of curriculum and instruction, made the comment Friday afternoon during a training session on which books teachers can have in classroom libraries. The training came four days after the Carroll school board, responding to a parent’s complaint, voted to reprimand a fourth grade teacher who had kept an anti-racism book in her classroom.

A Carroll staff member secretly recorded the Friday training and shared the audio with NBC News.

“Just try to remember the concepts of [House Bill] 3979,” Peddy said in the recording, referring to a new Texas law that requires teachers to present multiple perspectives when discussing “widely debated and currently controversial” issues. “And make sure that if you have a book on the Holocaust,” Peddy continued, “that you have one that has an opposing, that has other perspectives.”

For more, read NBC News’ full report.

National Education Association President Becky Pringle and Texas State Teachers Association President Ovidia Molina released this statement in response to the NBC News report:

“No matter their color, background, or zip code, we want our students to have an education that imparts honesty about who we are, integrity in how we treat others, and courage to do what’s right to build a better nation and future for our children.

“What happened in the Carroll Independent School District shows how the Texas law is meant to hinder educators’ ability to engage students’ curiosity and critical thinking. These intentionally confusing constraints on honest curriculum have no place in our public schools in Texas or elsewhere. Our students are listening and watching what we do. As trusted professionals, educators believe that all students deserve an honest and full education.

“Sadly, Texas is not alone. Educators in other states are facing similar actions triggered by some elected officials who are stoking fears about what educators can or cannot teach in public schools as well as trying to silence or ban teachers from teaching students about our full history. This has resulted in educators being targeted, harassed, intimated, and disciplined simply for doing their jobs. Whitewashing the history of the Holocaust and slavery by stoking fears diminishes these injustices endured by generations and devalues our students and their families’ lived experiences. Only through grappling with hard truths can our students create a more equitable future.

“We must remain steadfast, committed to ensuring students learn the honest and accurate history of our country so that they have the skills needed to better understand problems in our society and develop collective solutions to those problems.”

In a news release, NEA added this: “In the aftermath of states taking steps to consider or pass laws to restrict how topics like racism and sexism can be taught in K-12, NEA put together a Know Your Rights guide to help educators understand their rights and protections when teaching history and civics including our country’s history and continuing struggles with racism and sexism.”

Holocaust Museum Houston has also responded to the controversy.