Here is the assignment, which was handed out in April:
“[S]ome people claim the Holocaust is not an actual historical event, but instead is a propaganda tool that was used for political and monetary gain. Based upon your research on this issue, write an argumentative essay, utilizing cited textual evidence, in which you explain whether or not you believe the Holocaust was an actual event in history, or merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain. Remember to address counterclaims (rebuttals) to your stated claim.”
District spokeswoman Syeda Jafri explains that the assignment was developed by district teachers in connection with the eighth grade’s reading of the “Diary of Anne Frank” in April. It is aligned with Common Core Standards, which promote, among other things, critical thinking skills.
There was lively discussion at the time this story broke about whether this was a valid critical-thinking exercise.
But in a dénouement that should surprise no one, we learn today from the Los Angeles Daily News (LADN) that dozens of the 8th graders who turned in this assignment ended up concluding that the Holocaust was a hoax. Not only did they doubt it: they absorbed, from an anti-Semitic Holocaust-denial website – whose material was handed out to help them complete the assignment – a set of anti-Semitic tropes, against which their juvenile minds presumably had no defenses of skepticism or principle.