A New Jersey elementary school student's assignment about Adolf Hitler has sparked an investigation after the report that appeared to glorify the Nazi leader was put on display.
The assignment completed last week by a fifth-grade student at Maugham Elementary School was met with outrage from parents who say the teacher failed by allowing the student to praise Hitler for his "accomplishments."
The report, referring to Hitler, said "I was pretty great, wasn't I?" It also noted his unification of Germans and Austrians, saying "I was very popular" with only one reference to the antisemitism that drove the dictator to kill more than six million Jewish people.
The report was posted alongside others for several days in the hallway during April. The school principal and parents did not talk with reporters after school was let out Tuesday afternoon.
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Reactions from community members have been strong, especially in light of recent antisemitic attacks. They say they are outraged and some are calling for the teacher's dismissal.
"The teacher failed to recognize the profound impact this can have on students, family members and others in our community who could perceive this project as condoning or even glorifying the atrocities of one of the most evil individuals in the world history," said Jordan Shenker, CEO of the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades.
The regional director for the Anti=Defamation League said that the group was shocked at what was being displayed, and said they they had reached out to the district to ensure that Holocaust education is taught accurately and respectfully.
It's unclear if any actions were taken but the Tenafly Board of Education is reviewing the situation, according to the Tenafly Public Schools Superintendent Shauna DeMarco.
"In the meantime, we are committed – as always – to cultivating a positive school culture that has no room for hate, prejudice, bias, or oppression. We are proud of our District’s actions and policies regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion and are committed to ensuring adherence to these guiding principles," DeMarco said.
The Tenafly Board of Education said in a statement Tuesday that the assignment was on "social norms and historical figures who personify good and evil," and that it had been taken "out of context, resulting in understandable. anger and concern."
"The assignment (which was given by a teacher who happens to be Jewish) asked students to speak from the perspective of one of these individuals and how they might have perceived and rationalized their actions," the board said in a statement. "When people saw the students' projects, which were displayed in the school, they did not understand the assignment, resulting in justifiable concerns. Given that the less was specifically issued within the context of social justice, it is unfair to judge any student or teacher in this matter."