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03-11-06, 05:39 PM #1
Teacher disciplined for comparing President Bush to Adolph Hitler during lecture
DENVER -- A high school social studies teacher who was disciplined for comparing speeches by President Bush and Adolf Hitler stands by his lecture but wishes "he'd picked a different dictator," his lawyer said.
Teacher Jay Bennish also promised school district that he would make sure future classroom talks immediately offered opposing points of view, his lawyer David Lane told KHOW-AM radio in Denver.
Lane did not return a telephone call from The Associated Press.
Bennish has been on leave from Overland High School in suburban Aurora since March 1 while Cherry Creek School District determines whether his lesson likening Bush's State of the Union address to talks by Hitler violated a district policy requiring teachers to present balancing viewpoints.
After meeting with school administrators Thursday, Lane said the teacher was "not ashamed of what he said. If you want to tape him, tape him. He wished he'd picked a different dictator."
The investigation began after a student recorded part of a Feb. 1 lecture in which Bennish said some of Bush's State of the Union address "sounds a lot like the things that Adolf Hitler used to say."
Bennish has since said he was trying to stimulate his students to think critically and that other parts of the 50-minute lecture balanced his comments about Bush. He has also said he did not necessarily believe that Bush and Hitler had made similar comments but was trying to encourage discussion and thought.
From now on, however, "when he puts out something controversial, he'll put the other side out right then and there," Lane said.
School district spokeswoman Tustin Amole declined to comment on Thursday's meeting and said another could be held Friday. She said the district expected to announce a decision on Bennish on Friday.
The incident prompted a state lawmaker to suggest giving school districts the power to fire instructors who don't present balanced viewpoints on controversial topics.
The Senate took no immediate action on the amendment, which GOP state Sen. Doug Lamborn offered Thursday.
Last year, Lamborn introduced a resolution urging the University of Colorado to fire a professor who had likened some Sept. 11 victims to a Nazi.
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