Towson, MD – Baltimore County Public Schools are defending the use of a meme of President Donald Trump over a swastika and Soviet Union flag as part of the Advanced Placement (AP) history curriculum at Loch Raven High School.
The slide showed a picture of President Trump over the words “Wants to round up a group of people and build a giant wall,” WBFF reported.
Beneath the President was a picture of a swastika captioned “Been There” and flag of the former Soviet Union captioned “Done That.”
Handwritten, to the left of the meme, were the words “oh, THAT is why it sounds so familiar!”
Outraged parents told WBFF that the slide was put up during an AP history class and left up all day.
“I was told that by another student who said the topic in that class was supposedly world leaders shunning other groups out,” one parent said. “I said, ‘Is this part of the curriculum?'”
“The biggest problem is pushing an agenda on 16 year olds,” the parent added.
The school district pushed back against assertions by outraged parents that such content was an attempt at political indoctrination.
Baltimore County Public Schools Spokesman Charles Herndon told the Associated Press that students in AP classes were “discerning, intelligent students who are going to be able to draw their own inferences and draw their own conclusions.”
“This slide was used as part of a lesson in an AP History course,” Baltimore County Schools told WBFF in a statement. “The topics being discussed included World Wars and the attempts by some leaders to limit, or prevent migration, into certain countries. In isolation and out of context with the lesson, the image could be misunderstood. In our Advanced Placement (AP) classes, which are college level courses, we expect and encourage analysis and discussion around historical and current events even if they are considered controversial. This lesson was not intended to make a political statement. If a student has concerns when discussing a controversial issue, schools have the tools to address the concern and support the student.”
Local lawmakers were not impressed with the school district’s explanation.
“To even imply that our president is in any way a Nazi or a communist is outrageous,” Baltimore County Councilman Wade Kach told WBFF.
“Is this curriculum for AP?” Kach asked. “Is it a purchased curriculum? Is it one that our school system wrote? Where is it coming from? I just think that it’s irresponsible to post anything like this in a classroom.”
Dr. Richard Vatz, a professor of political persuasion at Towson University, told WBFF he questioned the school district’s explanation of the context of the derogatory slide.
“If they’re not presenting that as clear, outrageous argument against the President of the United States, then they’re not doing their job,” Vatz said. “It’s really contemptible. But I want to say it’s conceivable the teachers are doing a better job than has been communicated to you.”
“High schools are not supposed to take advocacy positions against presidents,” the professor said. “They’re supposed to explain how political advocacy works, if that’s what they’re doing. They’re certainly not to take a position that the President is comparable to these awful leaders of the past.”
Maryland State Delegate Kathy Szeliga has arranged for copies of the slide, as well as the Baltimore County schools’ responses to it, to be sent to her fellow Baltimore County lawmakers, the Associated Press reported.
“It is horrific. It is educational malfeasance,” Szeliga said.