The festering controversy over Common Core testing standards bubbled up into a heated public exchange Monday during the Lancaster School Board meeting when a retired substitute teacher referenced Nazi Germany.
Herbert Hough, the retired substitute teacher, voiced his criticism of the standardized tests and how they impact students, teachers and the overall learning environment.
“Don’t you have a sense of outrage that students are used as pawns?” Hough said to the board. “It reminds me of Nazi Germany before World War II.”
The comment upset Kenneth E. Graber, a longtime board member. Graber, who is Jewish, lashed out at Hough.
“I’m insulted by that,” Graber said, raising his voice and pointing his finger at Hough. “Please do not say, in any way, that this board is like Nazi Germany.”
By the end of the meeting, board President Marie MacKay told Hough to end “the conversation.” MacKay later told The Buffalo News that Hough “was totally out of line with what he said.”
“I will not have this in public. Do you hear me?” MacKay told Hough right after the meeting ended.
Hough said the matter was blown out of proportion. He said he was drawing a parallel between the dilemma faced by the School Board with government-mandated programs to what German people faced during World War II.
“They kept quiet and just went along, even though they disagreed with what was going on,” Hough said. “In a way, I was empathizing with the board. They have a duty to do and have a dilemma.”
“He offended the whole board. He is accusing the whole board of being Nazis. I had the guts to, at least, confront him,” Graber said. “When people start getting personal, they cross the line. Are we going to start a campaign to do away with Common Core? No. We’re going to do what we’re told to do by state Education.”