Parent angry Holocaust excluded from 5th-grade curriculum

Sandy Grove Elementary School
Sandy Grove Elementary School

LUMBER BRIDGE, N.C. (WNCN) – A Hoke County mother of five says she is fed up with her school’s curriculum after she said school officials would not allow her fifth grader to learn about the Holocaust.

Wendy Elder said she is considering home schooling her children after she learned the Holocaust is not a part of the school curriculum for fifth graders.

The surprising revelation came when her daughter returned to Sandy Grove Elementary School after spring break and saw that a classroom display on the Holocaust had been removed.

“She came home that day and told me she was really disappointed,” Elder said.

Elder said her teacher was creating the display before the break, but when the students returned, the teaching aide had been removed. She said the school told the teacher that the Holocaust was not part of the fifth-grade curriculum, so she could not teach it.

Elder said she spoke with the principal, who assured her the Holocaust would be taught in the sixth grade and more in middle school. According to the Department of Public Instruction, the earliest grade that student would be taught about the Holocaust would be in seventh grade World History.

DPI said it would be further explored in eighth grade American History.

But she said her concern lies with how sheltered her children are becoming. She said she believes fifth graders should be exposed to more world history.

“That is part of history, no matter how horrid history is,” Elder said. Elder said she doesn’t believe the curriculum “being implemented right now — since all the changes have been made — effectively educates our students.”

A spokeswoman for Hoke County Schools said the district sympathizes with Elder’s concerns, but it is tied to the N.C. Standard Course of Study and it must follow those guidelines.

“The curriculum is designed to align with these standards and these standards are designed in a sequential fashion, acting as building blocks from one grade level to the next,” said Jodie Bryant, the director of public relations for HCS.

“Whereas the emphasis in fifth grade is on early US History, the causes and implications of World War II will be addressed in middle school,” Bryant said.

Bryant said fifth-grade social studies classes “mainly address events within the precolonial, colonial, and reconstruction timelines of the United States’ history.”

DPI said there is no state statute that requires instruction to students on the Holocaust, and the curriculum and instruction used to teach Standards for K- 12 Social Studies is up to school districts.

Bryant said fifth graders may read the book “Number the Stars” as part of language arts, which may expose students “to some background history of World War II.” “Number the Stars” is a historical fiction about the escape of a Jewish family from Copenhagen during World War II.

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