The head of New York’s first virtual school has encouraged teachers to attend an event held by Educators for Palestine to discuss teaching about the “ongoing genocide on Gaza”.
Terri Grey, principal of Virtual Innovators Academy, sent the letter to public school teachers of children aged four to 18 about a “virtual curriculum share”.
However outraged parents have started a petition calling for the “dangerously biased” virtual event to be cancelled.
Grey’s letter states: ”Teachers will have the opportunity to hear from a panel of organizers and legal experts on how to combat censorship as we strive to create classrooms that foster justice, understanding and healing
“Teachers will have the opportunity to present and share original lessons and material they have developed on topics such as Palestinian history, the history of Israel occupation and the ongoing genocide in Gaza
“Every teacher who attends the curriculum share will leave with a collection of lessons they can use with their students
“Our hope is that by creating space to share resources and build meaningful connections, that we can empower each other to serve as changemakers within our individual schools.”
The petition by parents against the event states: “Schools are meant to be neutral zones for teaching students, not to indoctrinate them with propaganda about a highly complex situation.
“Using words like "occupation" or "genocide" are such offensive, non-factual forms of misinformation that will no doubt lead to antisemitism and hate.
“If current events are on the lesson plan, a teacher should appropriately present both sides for such young children. This lesson sharing planned for February 3rd will be alienating and extremely painful for your Jewish staff members and students.
“Children are not born with hate. Hate is taught. These harmful lessons will promote hate and antisemitism in an already sensitive time.
“This curriculum share must be stopped immediately. The principal must be disciplined. NYC educators need to be clear that perpetuation of this type of indoctrination is prohibited.”
Nathaniel Styer, press secretary for NYC Dept of Education, said: “As Chancellor Banks has repeatedly said, schools must be places for exploration and learning, not bias or bigotry.
“All reported allegations are investigated by the appropriate office, and our response is tailored to each individual matter to ensure we are meeting the Chancellor’s standards.
“In most cases we will not publicly report on outcomes, but the necessary steps are taken whether they are visible or not.”