Some D.C. Public School seventh-graders were assigned the rather unpatriotic task this week of comparing Adolf Hitler to former President George W. Bush. But now the school district wants you to know that such an intellectual exercise is not part of the official D.C. curriculum.
Late Wednesday afternoon, a tweet showing the Venn diagram homework assignment circulated, in which students (at McKinley Middle School, according to NBC4) were asked to compare the similarities and differences between the president and the dictator, “two men of power who abused their power in various ways.” The instructions read:
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. Please refer to your texts “Fighting Hitler—-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!
Here's a 6th grade assignment in DC asking students to compare President Bush to Hitler. This is so wrong. pic.twitter.com/YUfUbIyqkR— Matt Ashburn (@mattashburn) September 10, 2014
DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson sent an apology tweet just before 11 p.m. Wednesday night, saying that comparing Hitler to Bush is, well, not supposed to be part of the D.C. education experience.
No DCPS curriculum says to make these comparisons in any way. A deeply apologetic teacher used poor judgment & will apologize to students.— Kaya Henderson (@HendersonKaya) September 11, 2014
In a more detailed statement, DCPS spokeswoman Melissa Salmanowitz chalked this up to poor judgement on the teacher’s part and said an apology will be issued to students. She said one of the English curriculum units at the beginning of the school year is about war and peace and allows students to “explore different perspectives and determine when conflict is warranted and when peace should prevail.” The Hitler text is part of the suggested curriculum, but Salmanowitz says no part of the DCPS curriculum suggests that teachers should have students compare Hitler to anyone.
“The teacher deeply regrets this mistake, and any suggestion to malign the presidency or make any comparison in this egregious way,” the statement read. “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.”
Photo by Colette Cassinelli via Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0