Gov. Greg Abbott has jumped into the furor created by a Texas school district that gave students an assignment comparing police to the Ku Klux Klan.
“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,” Abbott tweeted Sunday.
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
Abbott was responding to a tweet from National Fraternal Order of Police Vice President Joe Gamaldi, who shared an image that was part of an assignment for eighth-graders in the Wylie Independent School District in Collin County.
The cartoon depicted a series of figures kneeling on a black man. The figures begin with a slave trader, then a slave owner, then a Klansman. After that come two figures representing police officers, one with a sign behind him that says, “White only.” Across all five panels, the black man is shown saying, “I can’t breathe,” the words of George Floyd before his May 25 death while in Minneapolis police custody.
“This is abhorrent and disgusting, and only further widens the gap between police officers and the youth in our community,” Gamaldi tweeted.
School officials said a social studies teacher at Cooper Junior High in Wylie sent the assignment to 400 students as part of a lesson about the right to protest included in the Bill of Rights.
The school said the cartoon was not part of its curriculum and issued an apology.
“We are sorry for any hurt that may have been caused through a social studies lesson that included political cartoons that reflected negatively on law enforcement. Wylie ISD values our school resource officers and all members of the law enforcement community,” the school district said.
In an email, Cooper Junior High Principal Shawn Miller told parents the assignment aligned with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills standards, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
“The teachers wanted to provide the students with current events to analyze the Bill of Rights,” Miller wrote.
The school has not publicly identified the teacher involved in developing the assignment.
The parents of one second-grader in the district disliked the cartoon.
“This makes kids afraid of police officers, and that is not something we need,” Lindsay Wilkinson told The Texan.
“I don’t recall a time when I was this angry or offended. I don’t believe this is a healthy way to address the issue that we are painfully aware of,” said her husband, Ian Wilkinson, a deputy with the Choctaw County Sheriff’s Department in Oklahoma. “We are not, as a profession, in the business of hurting people. We get the call on the worst day of someone’s life. We try to help put people’s lives back together.”
Gamaldi, a Houston police officer, said the assignment was biased against law enforcement.
“It’s not as if they put the image out and said, ‘We’re going to have a police officer come in and tell you how that’s not true.’ That was just the image they put out,” he said, according to KDFW. “At a time in our country where we are so desperate to bridge the gap with our community, where we need to rebuild trust, that teacher is preaching divisiveness.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.