High School curriculum on Armenian Genocide to be debated in Mass. State Courts

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In what has already become a source of heated debate in Massachusetts,a Lincoln-Sudbury High School history teacher and student, along with another teacher and the Washington-based Assembly of Turkish American Associations, have filed a lawsuit against the state regarding the Department of Education's curriculum guide concerning the teaching
of genocide.

Lincoln-Sudbury High School history teacher Bill Schechter said in the original draft of the curriculum guide, composed in the mid-1990s,
was the Turkish point of view regarding the deportation of Armenians from Turkey and the killing of approximately 1.5 million Armenians during World War I. Schechter alleges that state Sen. Steven Tolman, D-Boston, deleted the guidelines from the curriculum.

"Frankly the law requires the Department of Education to develop a genocide curriculum," Tolman said. "It didn't say create doubt,it did not say to allow neo-Nazis to deny the Holocaust, and it certainly does not allow the Turkish Government to deny what happened."

"We're claiming that the political intervention that led to the removal of material constituted a violation of free speech and academic freedom," Schechter said. "It's on those grounds that this case will be litigated, the conviction is that this is not how history should be certified. When historical questions remain unsettled amongst
credible historians the state should not legislate historical truth by removing different points of view."

Heidi Perlman, spokeswoman for the Department of Education, said the department was simply implementing the law.

"Our role is to follow the letter of the law and to produce this document," Perlman said. "It's not a mandatory curriculum, and it needs to include information on how to teach genocide. We didn't think it was appropriate to have language that the genocide didn't take place. It is the responsibility of the legislature to change the law."

When asked about Tolman's influence on the deletion of the Turkish perspective from the guide, Perlman reinforced her statement the
department was following the law.

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