Essays written by eighth-graders in California's Rialto Unified School District denying the Holocaust suggest that school officials misled the public about the assignment after it became the subject of controversy.
The San Bernardino County Sun obtained examples of the graded writings from the project, part of the district's English curriculum, which garnered outrage from many groups after the nature of the assignment came to light in May.
Students wrote that "it looks like the Holocaust was political propaganda," that the Holocaust was "fake because the Diary of Anne Frank was written with a ballpoint pen and those didn't exist [at the time]," and "the [Jews] may have invented the story of the Holocaust for political or financial gain."
Students were provided with three printouts from sources the district had selected to be used by students. They were from the History Channel website, About.com, and a Holocaust-denial religious website. "As I read some articles, it seems more like a hoax," concluded a student, while another surmised that the "Holocaust is a propaganda tool so Israel can make money for Jews."
Not only did the Rialto district's teachers assign the questionable assignment, one applauded a student for "using the evidence to support your [the students'] claim [that the Holocaust was fake]," giving that student 23 out of 30 possible points for their work denying the Holocaust, according to the Sun.
The school has struggled to get its story straight on its use of the Holocaust assignment, first defending it in saying that students did not deny the Holocaust, then admitting some students argued that the Holocaust wasn't real, before removing the exercise from its curriculum and sending the its eighth-graders on a field trip to the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.