Verity Educate, one of the sources Charles Jacobs’ organization Americans for Peace and Tolerance and their supporters repeatedly cite to discredit Newton Schools’ curriculum released this letter today. Bold type has been added by Village 14 for emphasis.
To Whom It May Concern:
It has come to my attention that the organization, Americans for Peace and Tolerance, has made a video about educational material on Israel, the Middle East, and Islam that was used in history classes at Newton high schools. The video references a report from our organization, Verity Educate.
Verity Educate is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that is entirely supported by donations and the work of volunteers. We provide expert analysis of educational materials for parents and community members. Verity Educate has no affiliation with Americans for Peace and Tolerance and its directors, Charles Jacobs and Ralph Avi Goldwasser. Verity Educate does not sanction this video. We viewed a section of the video in which Verity Educate and its report are mentioned and feel the video severely mischaracterizes our findings.
As Mr. Goldwasser communicated to me by phone on February 3, a purpose of the video is
to raise money for Americans for Peace and Tolerance. As part of this effort, the video sensationalizes Verity Educate’s extensive report. It focuses on material that originated from a bigoted website islamicweb.com. As Verity Educate made clear in its report, curricular material did originate from this hateful and bigoted website, but Verity Educate has no idea how teachers came to use this information or whether the teachers were aware of its origins. This raises concerns about whether Newton teachers exercised responsible and conscientious practices in preparing classroom material, not whether they promoted bigotry with the material.
The selection of material provided to students from this website was not in and of itself expressing severe bigotry, but it was of poor pedagogical quality and contained an exceptional number of factual errors. In their effort to sensationalize, Goldwasser and Jacobs’ video focused on other information from this hate-filled website that is bigoted against Jews and Shi’a Muslims that was not used in the classroom. This obscures the real issue Verity Educate highlighted in its report – that the use of poor quality, but not bigoted, information from this website in the classroom demonstrates sloppy and inattentive gathering of educational content.
Verity Educate is deeply troubled that its extensive and thorough work is being misrepresented by an organization that, as far as we can tell, lacks the expertise and subject matter knowledge to understand the content of the material and its use in educational settings.
We hope this letter explains Verity Educate’s position on this issue and makes clear that we are not affiliated with Americans for Peace and Tolerance and that we do not endorse the video nor its representation of Verity Educate.
Please feel free to contact me directly to obtain a full copy of Verity Educate’s report on this matter, including expert analysis of twenty-six curricular documents, or to speak with me regarding this issue.
Ellen R. Wald, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Verity Educate