Common Core: Anti-Semitism, a Bible Ban and ‘Nineteen Minutes’

Common Core: Anti-Semitism, a Bible Ban and ‘Nineteen Minutes’

The Unified School District in California gave eighth graders an 18-page assignment instructing them to decide whether the Holocaust was an “actual event” or a “propaganda tool used for monetary gain.” This included three sources students had to use, including one that states gassings in concentration camps were a “hoax” and that no evidence has shown Jews died in gas chambers.

“With all this money at stake for Israel, it is easy to comprehend why this Holocaust hoax is so secretly guarded,” states biblebelievers.org.au, one of the authorized sources for the assignment.  “In whatever way you can, please help shatter this profitable myth. It is time we stop sacrificing America’s welfare for the sake of Israel and spend our hard-earned dollars on Americans.”

The assignment given to the eighth graders reads:
“When tragic events occur in history, there is often debate about their actual existence. For example, some people claim the Holocaust is not an actual historical event, but instead is a propaganda tool that was used for political and monetary gain.

Based upon your research on this issue, write an argumentative essay, utilizing cited textual evidence, in which you explain whether or not you believe the Holocaust was an actual event in history, or merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain. Remember to address counterclaims (rebuttals) to your stated claim. You are also required to use parenthetical (internal) citations and to provide a Works Cited page.”

The other sources were the websites ‘history.com’ and ‘about.com.’ The school district defended the assignment, saying Common Core standards are to ‘teach critical thinking.’

Interim superintendent Mohammad Z. Islam later revised the districts position after the Anti-Defamation league voiced its concerns in an email to the district. Associate Regional Director Matthew Friedman said, in part:  “It is ADL’s general position that an exercise asking students to question whether the Holocaust happened has no academic value; it only gives legitimacy to the hateful and anti-Semitic promoters of Holocaust Denial.” Nineteen Minutes

However, Common Core components your child can read are books like “Nineteen Minutes,” by author Jodi Picoult. Set in a small town, the story tells of the events leading up to a shooting and what followed, but Picoult’s book also depicts a sex scene from beginning to end.

When William Baer, whose ninth-grade daughter was assigned the book came to a school board meeting to protest the assignment and the fact that the district forgot to send a notice home to parents about it, the Gilford School District in New Hampshire had him arrested for speaking beyond the two-minute rule during the board meeting. (See story) Baer is facing disorderly conduct charges.

Also making headlines, a fifth grader at Park Lakes Elementary School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida was recently told he is not allowed to read a Bible during “free reading” time. While not directly associated with Common Core problems, on April 8th, Swornia Thomas, Giovanni Rubeo’s teacher, took issue with the book and ordered him to put it away. Rubeo asked Thomas to contact his father, Paul Rubeo. She left a voicemail stating, “I noticed that he has a book—a religious book—in the classroom. He’s not permitted to read those books in my classroom.”

The elder Rubeo contacted the principal and the school’s legal department has yet to decide if his son has a right to read the Bible. The father retained the service of the Liberty Institute to mount a possible legal challenge to the Broward County School Districts’ actions. “Banning religious books like the Bible violates Giovanni’s civil rights to religious free speech and free exercise,” said Hiram Sasser, Liberty Institute Director of Litigation. “The school’s actions exemplify the hostility to religion that the U.S. Supreme Court has condemned.”

Sasser also has the U.S. Department of Education on his side, whose guidelines read in part, “…students may read their Bibles or other scriptures, say grace before meals, and pray or study religious materials with fellow students during recess, the lunch hour, or other non-instructional time to the same extent that they may engage in nonreligious activities.”

As these events continue to occur and more parents, teachers and administrators come out against Common Core, progressive politicians like former Florida Governor Jeb Bush will continue to push state officials to follow through on the standards despite those who oppose them.

“This is a real-world, grown-up approach to a real crisis that we have,” said Bush. “And it’s been mired in politics. Trust me; I know there are not a whole lot of people who are standing up to this avalanche.”

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