Parents of children attending an elementary school in Pittsburgh were stunned when their first grade students brought home an assignment about two young boys running from the police.
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.
“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.”
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.”
Pittsburgh Public Schools shared a statement with TODAY Parents 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.
“I don’t even see what’s wrong with the story. People are so goddamn ridiculous,” one person shared.
“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. “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."