From the San Bernadino (CA) Sunbehold the brilliance of the people paid by you the taxpayer to teach your rugrats:

The Rialto Unified School District is defending an eighth-grade assignment that asks students to debate in writing whether the Holocaust was “merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain.”

The district says the assignment is merely to teach students to evaluate the quality of evidence made by advocates or opponents of an issue.

“When tragic events occur in history, there is often debate about their actual existence,” the assignment reads. “For example, some 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. You are also required to use parenthetical (internal) citations and to provide a Works Cited page.”

The Anti-Defamation League complained to interim Rialto school superintendent Mohammad Z. Islam (I know that sounds like something Groucho Marx came up with, but it’s right there in the article), and his spokesperson and a school board member responded:

The project was designed by district teachers and assigned during the eighth grade’s “Diary of Anne Frank” unit, according to district spokeswoman Syeda Jafri.

The Common Core state standards, which have been adopted by most states and the District of Columbia, emphasize critical thinking in students, which is what the assignment is intended to teach, according to school board member Joe Martinez.

“One of the most important responsibilities for educators is to develop critical thinking skills in students,” Martinez wrote in an email Friday morning. “This will allow a person to come to their own conclusion. Current events are part of the basis for measuring IQ. The Middle East, Israel, Palestine and the Holocaust are on newscasts discussing current events. Teaching how to come to your own conclusion based on the facts, test your position, be able to articulate that position, then defend your belief with a lucid argument is essential to good citizenship. This thought process creates the foundation for a good education. The progression is within district board policy and also supports the district’s student inspired motto: ‘Today’s Scholars, Tomorrow’s Leaders.’”

KTLA-TV adds that students were directed to three sources to help them put this opus together: history.com, about.com, and a nasty little site called biblebelievers.org.au, which despite the name is also about anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. Because eighth graders with heads full of mush really should be exposed to stuff like this as a counterpoint to The Diary of Anne Frank. Nothing like being fair and balanced, doncha know.