Pennsylvania school district tells teachers not to ‘wade into’ Jan. 6 with students
A school district in Pennsylvania warned teachers on the anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol not to “wade into” discussions about the incident with students.
The Pennridge School District, located in Bucks County, outside Philadelphia, instructed teachers in a Wednesday email to “simply state that the investigation is ongoing and as historians we must wait until there is some distance from the event for us to accurately interpret it” if students had questions about the storming of the Capitol, according to local news outlet WHYY.
The email sent by administrator Keith Veverka, who is the supervisor of the district’s social studies classes, asked teachers to conduct classes as “business as usual,” WHYY reported.
Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Education Kathleen Brewster-Scheid reportedly added in the email thread that Veverka felt teachers were not prepared to instruct on the topic and “not enough time has passed to be able to design clear lessons on all of the outcomes.”
The contents of the email leaked to parents shortly after it was shared with teachers, WHYY noted.
Kevin Foster, who has children that go to school in the district, told the outlet that other engaged parents informed him about the email, which he found “immensely concerning.”
“When we start to meddle with what we want to tell kids or not tell kids in terms of history, I mean, that’s something that you find in authoritarian countries,” he said. “There are those that are so focused on politics instead of the kids that they are going to meddle and put their thumb on the scale as to … what we want to tell the kids in the schools, what happened in the not-so-distant past.”
Pennridge Superintendent David Bolton defended the contents of the email, telling WHYY in a statement that “multiple teachers” had reached out to Veverka prior to Jan 6. asking how they should address the anniversary.
“For those seeking guidance, we suggested that, if asked, staff could discuss the role that time plays in forming historical views,” Bolton reportedly wrote in an email. “Broadly speaking, however, there is simply no way to predict or address every question that may arise in a classroom. Pennridge teachers remain able to address any topic of current events in a constructive and appropriate manner.”