- A Texas school district imposed guidelines per a law requiring balanced views on “widely debated” issues.
- Teachers at the district said they are afraid of retribution for keeping certain books that violate the guidelines.
- A school executive said an example of such issues is providing “opposing” views on the Holocaust.
A Texas school administration leader was recorded telling teachers to balance out their classroom libraries with books with “opposing” perspectives, including those on racism and the Holocaust, NBC News reported Thursday.
Gina Peddy, who serves as the executive director of curriculum and instruction at the Carroll Independent School District in Southlake, Texas, made the remark during a training sessions with teachers, one of whom recorded the meeting and provided the audio to NBC News.
The school district implemented guidelines in light of Texas House Bill 3979, a new Texas law requiring teachers who are discussing “widely debated and currently controversial” during class to “explore such issues from diverse and contending perspectives without giving deference to any one perspective.”
Earlier this month, per the school’s new guidelines, the Carroll Independent School District cracked down on what books teachers should keep in their classrooms.
The Carroll school board voted to reprimand a fourth grade teacher who had an anti-racism book in her classroom’s bookshelves after a parent complained the book violated her family’s “morals and faith,” according to an NBC News report.
One teacher said during the recording that they thinks all of the school’s instructors are “terrified” of retribution if a parent complains about the learning materials they provide for their students.
“We are in the middle of a political mess, and you are in the middle of a political mess,” Peddy said during the meeting. “And so we just have to do the best that we can. And so we’re gonna go and we’re gonna do, you’re gonna do what you do best, and that’s to teach kids.”
“You are professionals. We hired you as professionals. We trust you with our children,” she continued. “So if you think the book is ok, then let’s go with it, and whatever happens, we will fight it together. We will.”
Peddy urged teachers to “remember the concepts of [Texas House Bill] 3979,” listing the Holocaust as an example of a “widely debated and currently controversial” issue.
“Make sure that if you have a book on the Holocaust that you have one has an opposing, that has other perspectives,” Peddy said.
“How do you oppose the Holocaust?” a teacher can be heard saying on the recording.
“Believe me, that’s come up,” Peddy responded.
The Holocaust was the deliberate, systematic murder by Nazi Germany of 12 million people during World War II – including about 6 million Jewish people and 6 million others. Holocaust deniers refuse to acknowledge that the genocide took place, claiming that it was “invented or exaggerated by Jews as part of a plot to advance Jewish interests,” according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website.
Peddy did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment, nor did a spokesperson for Carroll ISD. Insider also reached out to the Anti-Defamation League for comment about the Texas administrator’s comment.
In a statement to NBC News, Carroll ISD spokesperson Karen Fitzgerald said the district “recognizes that all Texas teachers are in a precarious position with the latest legal requirements,” adding that teachers being asked to provide libraries with balanced perspectives is not limited to their curriculum but also the books that students read during free time.
“Our purpose is to support our teachers in ensuring they have all of the professional development, resources, and materials needed,” Fitzgerald told NBC News. “Our district has not and will not mandate books be removed nor will we mandate that classroom libraries be unavailable.”