On April 4, B'nai B'rith International sent a letter to New York State Commissioner of Education MaryEllen Elia for defending an outrageous classroom assignment. In February, teacher Michael DeNobile assigned his Oswego County CiTi/BOCES New Vision students to argue for or against Adolf Hitler’s “Final Solution.”
Commissioner Elia apologized in a letter to B'nai B'rith International, saying: "The assignment was wrong. It crosses a line that should never be crossed. I spoke with district officials about this serious matter. The teacher apologized and the assignment will not be used in the future.
"As the head of New York State Education Department, I want to reiterate my commitment to you and all New Yorkers to ensure that students learn about the horrors of the Holocaust in a thoughtful and respectful manner."
You can read Commissioner Elia's the full letter here.
In the original letter to Commissioner Elia, B’nai B’rith wrote: “Of the many ways to teach critical thinking, clearly an area that needs work in our educational system, Oswego County high school teacher Michael DeNobile had CiTi/Boces New Vision students prepare an argument in favor of or against exterminating Jews. Is this question really open for debate? Is the goal of this assignment to teach critical thinking or hate? We think the latter.”
B’nai B’rith noted: “What has Mr. DeNobile accomplished through this assignment? Is he attempting to reopen the case for genocide? Is there conceivably any justification for genocide? Any logical step taken to answer this question in the affirmative is simply irresponsible and a failure in civilization. But this was reportedly an exercise in critical thinking and, ironically, the Oswego County New Visions program exercised very little in suggesting creative ways to share this lesson.”
To read B'nai B'rith's full letter click here.
See where B'nai B'rith International stands on the issues.