“I don’t even see what’s wrong with the story. People are so goddamn ridiculous,” one person shared.
This is what one commenter had to say on the Pittsburgh Public School System’s Facebook page regarding a first-grade reading assignment. Parents of children attending an elementary school in Pittsburgh were stunned when their students brought home an assignment about two young boys running from the police.
And what is wrong with it? We have enough indoctrination going on in public schools. The last thing we need is for a room full of 6-year old kids to be reading assignments that make light of running from cops.
Pittsburgh Public Schools assured families that the assignment is not part of the regular curriculum and staff are looking into how it landed in a classroom. Still, parents and community members are outraged by the worksheet.
Parents shared photos on social media detailing the assignment, which reads:
“Tom will run. He will run from the cop. Tom will run with Rob. They will not stop. Look at the cop. The cop has a big mop. What will he do with the mop? Tom falls on a log. Rob falls in the pond. ‘Get them!’ yells the cop to his dog. The dog gets Tom and Rob. Rob’s socks is wet from the pond.”
“Why on earth did a teacher think this was a good idea for a homework exercise? Who wrote this drivel in the first place?” someone shared on the Pittsburgh Public Schools Facebook page. “On top of that, there is this little gem: ‘Rob’s socks is wet from the pond.’ So much for teaching proper grammar.”
Pittsburgh Public Schools issued a statement about the assignment:
“The worksheet is not a part of the District’s curriculum or intervention programs. While we continue to support teacher autonomy to supplement classroom materials to meet the needs of their students, we must ensure that all materials placed in front of our students are culturally responsive, validating and affirming their cultural and ethnic identities. The District is investigating the source of the materials. As this is a personnel matter, no further information is available.”
Ladodie Whiters, who shared the image, wrote, “This is what they are teaching in our Elementary schools in Pittsburgh. Really run from cops. They couldn’t think of no other story to teach them sight words huh?”
Many worried that such a story might confuse young children and cause them to think it was fun or harmless to run from police.
“You think it’s funny to teach our children at a 1st grade level to run from cops with the current climate in law enforcement?” a Facebook user shared. “It is appalling and offensive.”
But some thought the assignment was innocent.
“Everything now a days offends ppl,” another said.
Superintendent Anthony Hamlet expressed his “dismay” in a statement shared with TODAY Parents.
“The homework assignment, which has been circulated throughout social media, has justifiably caused outrage among families, staff and community,” the statement said in part.
He goes on to say that it violates school policy.
“Not only does the content send the wrong message to our students, but it also does not meet our expectations for student instruction. We also recognize it is our responsibility to alert educators of their blind spots related to implicit bias, colorblindness, and micro-aggressions.”
Law enforcement are not the only people that are being targeted in the educational sphere.
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Not to be outdone, a Palm Beach Gardens teacher was reassigned after a question on a quiz referred to President Trump as an “idiot.”
The incident happened in a Computer Applications class at Watson B. Duncan Middle School, said the school’s principal in a letter that was sent to the parents following the incident.
According to a tweet posted by a parent who says his daughter was in the class, the question reads, “45th Pres; 2017; Republican; Real Estate businessman; Idiot.” The question was multiple choice and had several answers, which included Donald Trump.
“My daughter was doing her homework at the dinner table and she said to me, ‘Daddy, you gotta see this question.’ I took one look and it was very unacceptable,” said a father of a student.
The father who wished to remain anonymous.
“It’s an obvious example of indoctrination at our school system where teachers are forcing their opinions on our children. This is the first time I actually saw it in writing. It’s quite a different thing than when I hear it verbally.”
The school’s principal released a statement to the school’s parents that read:
“A question on a quiz given by your child’s Computer Applications teacher yesterday, was brought to my attention this morning. The question was inappropriate and demonstrated an unacceptable lack of good judgement on the part of the teacher.
An investigation is now underway, and the teacher has been reassigned during this process. Because this is an open inquiry, I am not at liberty to sharer any additional details with you at this point.
I apologize for this incident, and for the offensive verbiage used in the question. Thank you for your patience, and your continued support of Watson B. Duncan Middle School.”
However, those almost seem tame in comparison to this one.
Parents in North Carolina‘s Charlotte–Mecklenburg Schools are angry students were directed to read a book with anti-police overtones, and whose authors have been peddling the false narrative that Michael Brown was murdered by Ferguson, Mo., police.
The Charlotte–Mecklenburg Fraternal Order of Police want the book banned from schools.
“The last thing we want is kids to be viewing police officers as a social injustice that they can’t trust,” police union spokesman Chris Kopp told WSOC-TV in Charlotte. “We want them to be able to go towards these officers.”
Eighth graders at Bailey Middle School in Cornelius were given “All American Boys” as a reading assignment.
The authors of the book, Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, have a skewed view of Brown’s shooting in 2014 that spawned Black Lives Matter movement, stirred violent riots and created the “Hands up, don’t shoot” slogan.
“The Mike Brown case, that was the final straw” that inspired us to write the fictional book, Reynolds has previously stated.”
They claimed that their hopes were that the book would encourage school children to talk in a safe space about their feelings regarding police brutality against minorities.
It initially appeared that the Obama Justice Department would side with rioters over law-enforcement, but a subsequent investigation cleared Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson of any wrongdoing in the 2014 shooting, ruling it was justified self-defense.
Brown, who had robbed a convenience store and assaulted the clerk earlier that day, according to surveillance video, appeared to be under the influence and was confrontational when police stopped him, seemingly attempting to wrestle Wilson’s gun away. He then rushed toward the officer aggressively before he was shot.
According to Liberty Headlines, the false narrative that Brown was an innocent victim persists, however—not just in the authors’ minds, but in recent statements by Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Kamala Harris, D-Calif., both presidential candidates, who claimed on the five-year anniversary that Brown was murdered by police.
That’s the sort of mendacity parents of the middle schoolers protested in the reading assignment, even though the school district said no complaints were lodged.
“I was heartbroken, first of all,” said Mandy Giannini, a 19-year law-enforcement veteran and school parent. She called the book one-sided and anti-police. “My children worry about me enough as it is.”
Police say the book reading unnecessarily reopens a community wound. A state of emergency was declared in Charlotte in 2016 after violent unrest over the police fatal shooting of an armed black man. Officers were cleared of any wrongdoing.
“The book remains on our assigned reading list pending the outcome of the challenge process,” Bailey Middle School Principal Chad Thomas told WSOC. He said the school’s role is “to build critical thinking skills and present alternative points of view.”
Editorial reviews of the book on Amazon include some doozies.
“With Reynolds writing Rashad’s first-person narrative and Kiely Quinn’s, this hard-edged, ripped-from-the-headlines book is more than a problem novel; it’s a carefully plotted, psychologically acute, character-driven work of fiction that dramatizes an all-too-frequent occurrence. Police brutality and race relations in America are issues that demand debate and discussion, which his superb book powerfully enables.”– Booklist.
Rashad Butler is a quiet, artistic teen who hates ROTC but dutifully attends because father insists “there’s no better opportunity for a black boy in this country than to join the army.” He heads to Jerry’s corner store on a Friday night to buy chips, and ends up the victim of unwarranted arrest and police brutality: an event his white schoolmate Quinn Collins witnesses in terrified disbelief.
Quinn is even more shocked because the cop is Paul Galluzzo, older brother of his best friend and Quinn’s mentor since his father died in Afghanistan. As events unfold, both boys are forced to confront the knowledge that racism in America has not disappeared and that change will not come unless they step forward. Reynolds and Kiely’s collaborative effort deftly explores the aftermath of police brutality, addressing the fear, confusion, and anger that affects entire communities.
Diverse perspectives are presented in a manner that feels organic to the narrative, further emphasizing the tension created when privilege and racism cannot be ignored. Timely and powerful, this novel promises to have an impact long after the pages stop turning. VERDICT Great for fostering discussions about current events among teenage audiences. A must-have for all collections.—Ashleigh Williams, School Library Journal