Baltimore County lawmakers criticize use of Trump alongside Nazi, communist symbols in high school history lesson

Several Baltimore County lawmakers are criticizing a slide used in an Advanced Placement history lesson at Loch Raven High School that links an image of President Donald Trump with Nazi and communist symbolism.

The slide shows a picture of Trump, with the words “Wants to round up a group of people and build a giant wall.” Underneath are two pictures containing symbols, one a Nazi swastika with the words “Been there" and the other with the Communist hammer, sickle and star with the words “Done that.”


Written beside the images is: “Oh, that is why it sounds so familiar.”

Del. Kathy Szeliga arranged for copies of the slide and the school system’s response to be sent to her fellow Baltimore County members of the House of Delegates. She also posted an image on Facebook.


This propaganda was used in an AP history class at Loch Raven High. Educational malfeasance of the highest degree. What...

Posted by Kathy Szeliga on Friday, February 21, 2020

“It is horrific. It is educational malfeasance,” Szeliga, a Republican, said at a meeting of the county’s delegation in Annapolis Friday morning.

Baltimore County Councilman Wade Kach called it “a piece of propoganda” that didn’t belong in a classroom.

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“I think it is inappropriate in a high school to have something like that that is so controversial," said Kach, a Cockeysville Republican. “I think to in any way try to draw a comparison to the president and the communists or the Nazis” isn’t right, he said.

The school system said the slide was not part of the resources it provides for AP history teachers. Advanced Placement classes should be taught on the level of a freshman college class.

Charles Herndon, a spokesman for Baltimore County schools, said students in such advanced high school classes are “discerning, intelligent students who are going to be able to draw their own inferences and draw their own conclusions.”

“The topics being discussed in the class included World Wars and the attempts by some leaders throughout history to limit or prevent migration into certain countries. In isolation and out of context with the lesson, the image could be misunderstood," the school district said in a statement.

The image was not intended to make a political statement, the school district statement said, but “was used in the context of teaching skills needed for analysis, discussion, and media literacy. In our AP classes, which are college level courses, we expect and encourage analysis and discussion around historical and current events, even if they are considered controversial."

The College Board, which oversees the standards and exams for the AP, does not provide a curriculum for teachers. Lessons are written by individual teachers and are aimed at the level of the students, but the school system does provide some resources and framework for the classes.


The school system said the issue had become a personnel matter "which will be appropriately addressed by the school administration and is not subject to further clarification.”