High School English Teacher Downplays Holocaust
A North Carolina teacher’s lesson on slavery included a discussion question that downplayed the Holocaust and likened 19th-century Americans to Nazis.
Ardrey Kell High School English teacher Lisa Patrizio asked her 11th-grade students to describe a fictional character’s thoughts after reading about World War II. The correct answer to the multiple-choice question, a screenshot of which was obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, implied that Americans give undue weight to the horrors of the Holocaust.
"While the monstrosities of the Holocaust may have been more intense over a shorter period of time, those who lived through slavery endured conditions just as horrible over a much longer duration," the answer read. "Yet while Americans are largely comfortable acknowledging the events of the Holocaust as the worst impulses of mankind, there is often more hesitancy to take responsibility for the degradations of enslaved people that took place on American soil."
The quiz question asked what the character had learned after reading that "the Germans had been trying to do in only a few years what the Americans had worked at for nearly two hundred."
Brooke Weiss, the mother of a student at the Charlotte public school, said her daughter was shocked by the question but did not speak out about it for fear of retribution. Weiss, who is Jewish, told the Free Beacon that she didn’t understand the school’s need to compare the two horrific events.
"Slavery and genocide are different things, but they’re both atrocities," Weiss said. "There’s no value in putting those words in the same sentence, other than pitting those two groups against each other."
Weiss expressed her concerns and shared a screenshot of the question on a Jewish mothers’ Facebook page in February. Her post was met with criticism from Sivonne Stone, then a Charlotte public school teacher, who wrote that Weiss was "literally cray cray."
"You give Jewish people a bad name," wrote Stone, who has since resigned from her teaching position. She also privately messaged Weiss to say, "F—k off."
Weiss sees Patrizio’s lesson as part of a broader trend toward teaching "reframed" Marxism in the classroom. "Instead of proletariat and bourgeoisie, it’s white versus black," Weiss told the Free Beacon. "I’m not happy with it at all."
Ardrey Kell High School English department head Sarah Payseur and Patrizio did not respond to the Free Beacon’s request for comment in time for publication. Principal Jamie Brooks said in a statement that the school handled the matter with Weiss's family.
A growing number of public and private schools across the United States have begun to push radical, antiracist curriculum in K-12 classrooms. California has considered adopting woke standards that demonize Christianity, and dozens of leftwing education groups have pushed for antiracist math instruction, which considers finding the right answer and showing your work to be relics of white supremacy.
North Carolina’s State Board of Education adopted radical history curriculum standards in February, which teach high schoolers to "explain how slavery, xenophobia, disenfranchisement, and intolerance have affected individual and group perspectives of themselves as Americans."
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg district has adopted "Social Emotional Learning" standards for 11th-grade students, like Weiss’s daughter. The curriculum includes a lesson on creating safe spaces.
Since October, Ardrey Kell High School has sent monthly "Social Justice Newsletters" to families. The inaugural letter reported that the school taught students about relations between minorities and the police and asked children to reflect on their experiences of privilege and oppression.
In February, Ardrey Kell students learned about black nationalism and black power movements—including the extremist, anti-Semitic Nation of Islam. Weiss, whose husband is a retired police officer, said the school gave a presentation on policing featuring an ex-cop who "railed" against other policemen.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center said that while there are certainly parallels between slavery and the Holocaust, it’s critical for students to learn about the Holocaust and slavery without establishing a hierarchy of suffering.
"So the whole issue is not to compare. We don’t need a pecking order of victimhood and suffering," Cooper told the Free Beacon. "We need to learn objectively what happened."
Cooper said that while he doesn’t question the teacher’s motivation in asking the question, others—like Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan—have used similar comparisons to "stir animosity" between Jews and black Americans.
Instead of sorting through which human-rights abuses are worse, people from different backgrounds should seek to learn and empathize with one another’s history, Cooper said.
"Where you start first and foremost is you start with the facts. You have to try to humanize history," Cooper said. "Beyond that, especially for Americans, we need to be empathetic to our neighbors, and to do that you need to do research, you need to read, and you need to knock at your neighbor’s door."