Texas Gov. Greg Abbott wants the Wylie Independent School District to fire the teacher responsible for a political cartoon assigned to students that compares police to slave owners and KKK members.
A teacher in a Texas public school comparing police officers to the KKK is beyond unacceptable.
It’s the opposite of what must be taught.
The teacher should be fired.
I’m asking the Texas Education Agency to investigate and take action. https://t.co/DsCdp4fFaB
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) August 23, 2020
“A teacher in a Texas public school comparing police officers to the KKK is beyond unacceptable,” Abbott wrote on Twitter Sunday. “It’s the opposite of what must be taught. The teacher should be fired. I’m asking the Texas Education Agency to investigate and take action.”
Abbott linked to a Twitter post from Fraternal Order of Police Vice President Joe Gamaldi from last Thursday that included an image of the assignment. The cartoon included five panels, starting with a slave trader kneeling on the neck of a chained black man. The second panel showed a slave owner with a whip doing the same, with whip marks on the black man.
The third panel was the same deal with a hooded KKK member and noose, while the fourth panel involved a sheriff kneeling, with a “whites only” sign in the background. The concluding panel is the cartoon rendition of the Minneapolis police officer kneeling on George Floyd.
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“8th grade teachers in a school outside of Dallas, TX (@WylieISD) gave students a home work assignment comparing police officers to slave owners and the KKK,” Gamaldi tweeted. “This is abhorrent and disgusting, and only further widens the gap between police officers and the youth in our community.”
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports:
Wylie Independent School District spokesperson Ian Halperin told the Star-Telegram on Thursday that the assignment was given to Cooper Junior High eighth-grade social studies students as part of Celebrate Freedom Week, where students learned about the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence.
In an email dated Aug. 20, Cooper Junior High Principal Shawn Miller told parents that the assignment aligned with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills standards. The assignment was to determine if the rights detailed in the Bill of Rights — including the First Amendment rights of protest and free speech — are still as important or impactful now.
Miller told parents that multiple teachers were involved with the assignment, but wouldn’t identify who they are. He alleged the district hold law enforcement in high regard, and officials are working to prevent similar incidents in the future.
District officials apologized to parents about the lesson, which was not part of the district’s approved curriculum.
“Wylie ISD will comply with the Governor and the Texas Education Agency to investigate this matter as we work together to rebuild trust in the community,” the statement said.
The district did not commit to terminating the teachers involved.
Wylie resident Amber Jennings was not impressed when she spoke with the Star-Telegram, especially because the cartoon was handed out to impressionable 13- and 14-year-olds.
“Don’t indoctrinate our children to think this way,” Jennings said.
Gamaldi echoed those sentiments in a public letter to the Wylie ISD Superintendent David Vinson.
“You see police officers are a diverse group of individuals who are working diligently to have conversations, often difficult ones, with our communities and our children,” Gamaldi wrote. “We are willing to sit down with anyone and have a fact-based conversation about our profession, but divisiveness like your teachers showed does nothing to move than conversation forward. It only widens the gap further.
“Schools are supposed to be a place where the youth of America are taught acceptance and understanding, it is where we mold the future of our country, not indoctrinate them in the ways of division,” he wrote.