Teaching History and Controversial Topics
Dear Newton Community:
For the past seven years, the Newton Public Schools have been the target of outside groups claiming anti-Israel bias in our history curriculum. These baseless claims, often reliant upon materials and documents taken out of context, are misleading and only serve to denigrate the hard work and professionalism of our skilled and dedicated faculty.
In recent months, the attacks have grown increasingly and unjustly personal. Our history teachers have been singled out, harassed and subjected to harsh and unfair criticism in the media and online. As a result, there is growing concern among our faculty about teaching controversial topics. Should these attacks continue, we worry it will jeopardize our ability to expose students to diverse opinions and to teach them about controversial issues that require open minds and critical thought.
We stand behind our faculty members, who are guided by the mission and values of the Newton Public Schools and their professional judgment. Whether it is the history of the Middle East or contemporary American politics, they are committed to engaging students around complex and challenging issues in a responsible, intellectual and balanced way.
In every class, our teachers work to ensure that students learn to separate fact from opinion, discern between different points of view, challenge their own thinking and that of their peers, and develop evidence-based opinions through study and the testing of ideas. They also provide space for students to actively listen, particularly to those voices in the minority - whether it be political, racial, ethnic, religious, or gender.
As always, we encourage our families to bring any questions about curriculum to their child’s teacher or department head. Information and teaching materials are always available to families and our administrators and faculty are happy to discuss them. For more information on teaching controversial topics in the Newton Public Schools, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions on our website.