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Newton curriculum’s foes are justifiably concerned

I read the article “Newton teachers stand up for history curriculum” (Page A1, Nov. 28) and would like to point out that the people who signed the petition asking the School Committee to examine the Middle East history course, as well as those who came to the hearing to speak about their concerns, are not critical of the teachers in general, the values of the school’s mission, or the importance of critical thinking. They all agree that those are excellent and said so. Rather, they are justifiably concerned about the materials taught by David Bedar — materials identified as inaccurate, false, and deliberately misleading in the study done last year by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America. CAMERA published an update of its study just last week. The falsehoods and bias have not been corrected.

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None of the speakers who came to support the school and its teachers refuted or even addressed the points made in either of those studies. They are, in fact, irrefutable. The hearing turned into a pep rally for the school, with students and teachers being called on first to speak in rebuttal to the petition, and those who brought the petition being called on last, after Bedar asked school supporters to stand, at which time they walked out.

Moreover, that much of the audience left at Bedar’s prompting, without hearing any of the points made by the petitioners, belies his statement that they are interested in hearing all points of view.

Karen Hurvitz

Concord

The writer is an attorney for Education Without Indoctrination, a nonprofit group that organized the petition.

Teachers want to encourage students to develop their own opinions

I was disappointed by the coverage of the attacks on the Newton Schools in the article “Newton teachers stand up for history curriculum.” I felt that the article mischaracterized the meeting. In fact, those who spoke — overwhelmingly in support of the Newton schools, and mostly coming from the Newton community — were former students and parents. Only two teachers spoke, though it’s true that there were many in attendance.

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Those who are criticizing the curriculum would like to dismiss these community voices. Several of the former students who spoke delayed their return to college in order to speak at the meeting; this sacrifice should be applauded, and at least one of these students should have been quoted.

The community recognizes that the Newton faculty aims to present students with a variety of perspectives, and encourages and teaches students to develop — and defend — their own opinions. Quoting any of the students who spoke, a number of whom identify as conservatives, would have given the public at large a much more accurate view of the meeting, as well as the quality of education available in Newton.

Kathryn Codd

Cambridge

The writer is a teacher at Newton North High School.