The damage inflicted on 2,000 eighth-graders in Rialto who were told to weigh the historical validity of the Holocaust is done ("Rialto school officials apologize for Holocaust assignment," May 7). Oyuky Barragan, a student who spoke at the emergency meeting of the school board, was the most eloquent of all the speakers when she insisted that the school district apologize because of "the idea they planted in kids' minds."
The school district must make this a teachable moment. After apologizing to the students, the Rialto Unified School District should explain why this assignment was dead wrong, hold those educators who conceived of this offensive act accountable and ensure that such a misguided project will never again occur.
Unless they take these actions, the district will only fuel the fire of anti-Semitism and encourage those who perpetuate the denial of the Holocaust.
Rabbi Reuven Taff
Dozens of school busses should transport the Rialto eighth-graders to the Simon Wiesenthal Center for a full day's tour and lunch next week. In order to pass the assignment earlier provided to students, the day trip should be made mandatory for the 2,000 kids and for those teachers and administrators who concocted such an outlandish "critical thinking" project about the existence of the Holocaust.
Additionally, and for extra class credit, the district should pay for about 15 to 20 well-deserving students to travel with chaperons this summer for a few weeks to visit and tour Dachau and Auschwitz and report back on what they saw and learned.
Playa del Rey
Here's a critical thinking assignment for the Rialto students:
Question: What could possibly have motivated their teachers to assign students to debate the validity of the Holocaust, given the wealth of documentary evidence available?
Instruction in the difference between evidence and opinion should precede this assignment. It probably wouldn't hurt if the teachers had that instruction as well.
Diana E. Wolff
Rancho Palos Verdes
In the same issue of The Times as this article, there's an Op-Ed piece warning of the rise of far-right, racist political parties in parts of Europe.
This perhaps provides a reason why the critical-thinking lesson in Rialto deserves commendation rather than requiring an apology.
After the last person to experience the Depression left Congress, the laws we put in place to prevent another economic catastrophe were frittered away, and the 2008 crisis resulted.
"Never again" begins with the capacity of each new generation to find for themselves what happened to make their world, and to understand why some with agendas always will deny it.
Let's turn the controversy over the assignment as to whether the Holocaust happened into an enlightening exercise that produces greater insight and understanding into the warped and radical minds of those who deny the Holocaust occurred.
Change the assignment to this: "Delving into the delusionary world of Holocaust deniers."
Marina del Rey