A teacher who was placed on leave after comparing President Bush’s State of the Union address to speeches by Adolf Hitler has been reinstated, school officials said Friday.
Social studies teacher Jay Bennish had been on paid leave from Overland High School in suburban Aurora since March 1 while administrators determined whether he violated a district rule that teachers must present balancing viewpoints in the classroom.
A student recorded part of the lecture, and the tape was provided to a Denver radio station and to Cherry Creek School District administrators.
Bennish later said the lecture was intended to stimulate his students to think critically. He also said he always presents balancing viewpoints in class, but not always at the same time.
Bennish told NBC’s “Today” show on Tuesday the excerpts broadcast on the radio weren’t representative of the full lecture.
“This is 20 minutes out of a 50-minute class. The rest of the class provides the balance,” he said.
On the recording, Bennish told the students during a Feb. 1 geography class that some of Bush’s speech “sounds a lot like the things that Adolf Hitler used to say. We’re the only ones who are right, everyone else is backwards and our job is to conquer the world and make sure that they all live just like we want them to.”
Later in the recording, Bennish said he was not claiming Bush and Hitler were the same, “but there are some eerie similarities to the tones that they use.”
Bennish said no parents — including the family of the student who recorded the lecture — have complained to him. He said all the students’ parents had seen his syllabus and that school officials had approved it.