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A Nebraska school district has apologized after children in at least two schools were shown a storybook depicting police officers in an offensive manner.
The storybook, “Something Happened in Our Town,” is a “child’s story of racial injustice” after a white police officer shoots a black man. The book is meant for children as young as four-years-old.
“It just made me sad; it made me angry,” parent Annie Smith told television station WOWT. Her husband serves in law enforcement. “Gosh, it’s hard to put into words how much it affected me. I was literally shaking and angry.”
The Lincoln Journal-Star reports that the book was presented to kids at two schools in the Papillion-La Vista School District.
Resident Tim Hall took issue with multiple passages of the book, including when a character says, “The cops shot him because he was Black,” and when a parent in the book says that there are many cops, Black and white, who make good choices, followed by another character saying, “But we can’t always count on them to do the right thing.”
“These passages, beyond being inappropriate for school-aged children, are biased to the police and … exhibit racist ideas,” Hall told the newspaper.
The Papillion La Vista Education Association defended the book and said they stood in “strong support of educators who engage their students in courageous conversations about racism and social injustice.
“The problem is not the material in question. The problem is continuing to ignore the very real issues of racism and injustice,” association vice president Jared Wagenknecht said.
“The worst consequences of the district’s response are the missed opportunities for discussion and questions,” Wagenknecht said. “Our students deserve to be engaged. It is our job to help students process and make sense of the world that they have inherited.”
The school district sided with law enforcement and parents.
“It’s not a book that is representative of how we view our law enforcement,” said Annette Eyman, the director of communications for the school district.
“This particular book was not vetted appropriately,” she told the television station. “We have a district-wide vetting process that we go through with all of our curriculum and things that are shared in our classroom and this did not go through that process.”
Eyman said it was an “honest mistake,” on behalf of the district as a whole.
“As soon as it was brought to our attention, our superintendent reached out to all of our chiefs of police and followed that up with a letter of apology,” Eyman says. “We are very fortunate in our school district to have a collaborative effort with our police, and the fact that this book said something other than that is very disheartening to all of us.”
So basically, storybooks like “Huckleberry Finn” and “Cat in the Hat” are being set aside so teachers can fill their bookshelves with anti-police propaganda. Don’t be surprised if one day your sixth grader brings home a copy of Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals.”