CA Kids Got High Marks for Holocaust Denial Essays


Remember back in May when there was a minor uproar when eighth graders were given a ‘critical thinking skills’ test in which they were asked to decide and explain why the Holocaust was or was not a hoax. They were given two anodyne descriptions from the Internet and then a third from a notorious Holocaust denial site.

Well, it turns out it was a bit worse than first reported.

At the time, school administrators said that none of the students had actually argued that the Holocaust was a hoax. But that turns out not to be true.

The assignments have been released by the school district (with names redacted). And an analysis by the local Daily Bulletin “found that at least 50 essays denied or doubted the Holocaust occurred.” And if that’s not enough, a number of those essays that argued the Holocaust was a hoax got high marks and high praise for critical thinking skills from the teachers who graded them.

[Irrelevant trivia: my first gig in the news business was as a paper boy for one of the two papers that merged into the Daily Bulletin.]

From the Daily Bulletin

“I believe the event was fake, according to source 2 the event was exhaggerated,” one student wrote. (Students’ and teachers’ original spelling and grammar are retained throughout this story.) “I felt that was strong enogh evidence to persuade me the event was a hoax.”

In some cases, students earned high marks and praise for arguing the Holocaust never occurred, with teachers praising their well-reasoned arguments:

“you did well using the evidence to support your claim,” the above student’s teacher wrote on his assignment.

The student received a grade of 23 points out of 30, with points marked off for not addressing counterclaims, capitalization and punctuation errors.

As I wrote at the time, I grew up near this area. And was and I believe still is known as something of a local hotbed of white nationalist and neo-nazi activity. So I still find it hard to believe that this was entirely a matter of poor judgment by people who did not themselves harbor anti-Semitic or Holocaust denying beliefs.

All the submitted tests have been posted here on Document Cloud.