School District Drops Holocaust-Denial Lesson Plan

Educators wanted to promote 'critical thinking skills'
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 5, 2014 7:15 PM CDT

(Newser) – A California school district is scrapping a lesson plan that allowed middle school students to deny the existence of the Holocaust, Fox News reports. After a wave of criticism and a reported death threat, Southern California's Rialto Unified School District backpedaled on its unusual method of teaching eighth-graders about propaganda. The lesson plan (part of a "Diary of Anne Frank" unit, the Daily Bulletin notes) asked students to write an essay for or against the belief that the Holocaust occurred—which would help them "develop critical thinking skills," a school board member said.

Among the critics was the Anti-Defamation League, which expressed its concerns to district Interim Superintendent Mohammad Islam, saying the lesson plan "gives legitimacy to the hateful and anti-Semitic promoters of Holocaust denial," reports another Daily Bulletin article. Today the district canceled the plan and promised to strike "any reference to the Holocaust 'not occurring'" from school assignments. Meanwhile, Rialto police said they received several calls from someone who made death threats against Islam and a district spokeswoman. Authorities are investigating, and two officers were stationed today on campus. (Read more Holocaust stories.)

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