Keep Holocaust/WWII Literature Unit at Oxford Middle School

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For many years, there has been an English/Language Arts (ELA) unit focused on Holocaust and WWII literature at Oxford Middle School; however, it has been brought to my attention that this unit may no longer be part of the curriculum after this year. Though my daughter’s ELA teacher indicated that this was because the topic is "too depressing,” the principal stated that it is because K-12 teachers are working to vertically align as well as collaborate with History teachers, and create as little overlap as possible. I asked for more detailed information regarding when, and how, the Holocaust and WWII will be taught in Oxford School District, but was simply told (and I quote), “The Holocaust along with WWII will be taught during a student's K-12 academic experience.”

OMS students have witnessed anti-Semitic, Nazi-themed remarks and behaviors (such as giving the Nazi salute, saying “heil Hitler,” and calling peers “Nazi”). This type of behavior has become a problem nationwide, especially over the past year. According to a recent report from the anti-defamation league: In 2017, K-12 schools surpassed public areas as the locations with the highest number of anti-Semitic incidents. There were 457 incidents in K-12 schools: a dramatic increase of 94 percent from the previous year." 

Though the Holocaust and WWII are required learning standards in the US History and World History courses, these are not offered until high school. Many in the Oxford community feel strongly that it needs to be taught in middle school specifically, to teach empathy and understanding before the as a much deeper understanding of the topic than facts learned in a history class.

I urge you to consider all of the messages the unit has taught these children. Beyond learning facts about the Holocaust and WWII, it has taught important lessons about empathy, treating others (even those different from you) with dignity and respect, standing up for those being treated wrongly, using our voices to fight for what's right, and being the type of citizen that never allows this to happen again. Our survivors are dying off, and it is our responsibility to pass their messages and lessons on to the next generation. 

Please sign this petition to let those making the decision regarding the Holocaust/WWII literature unit know that, as a community, we feel strongly that this unit should remain a part of the Oxford Middle School curriculum.