Texas Official Caught Instructing Teachers to Balance Holocaust Books With ‘Opposing’ Views

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Newly surfaced audio recordings have captured the executive director of curriculum and instruction of the Carroll Independent School District in Texas advising teachers that if they have a book about the Holocaust in their classroom, they should also offer students access to “opposing” perspectives.
The Texas official at the center of the story has been identified as Gina Peddy. She reportedly made the comment Friday afternoon during a training session in which administrators discussed which books would be allowed in classroom libraries.
The training took place in response to a parent’s complaint that prompted the Carroll school board to vote on reprimanding a fourth grade teacher that kept an anti-racism text in her classroom.
A Carroll staff member is said to have discreetly recorded the Friday training where Peddy referenced Texas House Bill 3979, which requires teachers to present many perspectives when discussing “widely debated and controversial” subjects.
“Just try to remember the concepts of [House Bill] 3979,” Peddy said in the recording, which was later obtained by NBC News. “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.”
“How do you oppose the Holocaust?” one teacher asked in response to Peddy’s remarks, to which the administrator responded by saying, “believe me… that’s come up.”
“We are in the middle of a political mess,” Peddy said in the recording, acknowledging that teachers are afraid to broach certain subjects. “And you are in the middle of a political mess. And so we just have to do the best that we can.”
In a written response that addressed Peddy’s remarks, Carroll ISD spokesperson Karen Fitzgerald reportedly said that the district is trying to help teachers comply with the new state law and Texas Senate Bill 3. The updated version is set to take effect in December.
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“Our district recognizes that all Texas teachers are in a precarious position with the latest legal requirements,” Fitzgerald wrote, noting that the district’s interpretation of the new Texas law “requires teachers to provide balanced perspectives not just during classroom instruction, but in the books that are available to students in class during free time.”
“Our purpose is to support our teachers in ensuring they have all of the professional development, resources and materials needed. Our district has not and will not mandate books be removed nor will we mandate that classroom libraries be unavailable,” Fitzgerald added.
Fitzgerald is said to have also advised teachers who are unsure about book selection to speak to school personnel and curriculum coordinators.
Clay Robinson, a spokesperson for the Texas State Teachers Association which represents educators in the Lone Star state, says that the new law has nothing that explicitly governs classroom libraries.
Clay reportedly referred to the book guidelines at Carroll as an “overreaction” and a “misinterpretation” of the law.
“We find it reprehensible for an educator to require a Holocaust denier to get equal treatment with the facts of history,” Robison said. “That’s absurd. It’s worse than absurd. And this law does not require it.”
Additionally, six teachers from the Carroll school district, keeping their identity anonymous, have told NBC News that district leaders have not been transparent on what teachers should be doing, adding that they felt worried about retribution when voicing their concerns.
“Teachers are literally afraid that we're going to be punished for having books in our classes,” one educator said. “There are no children's books that show the 'opposing perspective' of the Holocaust or the 'opposing perspective' of slavery. Are we supposed to get rid of all of the books on those subjects?”
The school district has reportedly denied that it is vetting classroom libraries, but teachers have been sent a rubric that asks them to do exactly that.
Carroll Superintendent Lane Ledbetter, in an email to parents, denied that the district was telling teachers to remove books. “I would like to take this opportunity to set the record straight. The district has not mandated that any book be removed from teachers' classroom libraries. Additionally, the district has not provided any training on removing books.”
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