PITTSBURGH - Some parents of elementary school students in the Pittsburgh School District were outraged to discover that some first graders were given a reading comprehension assignment about two boys running from a cop.
The assignment, called “Let's Read!” instructed students to read the story three times before answering questions about the text below.
The text read:
“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.”
Ladodie Whiters shared a photo of the assignment to her Facebook page, saying, “PPS [Pittsburgh Public Schools] this should not be going on,” and called the incident “unacceptable.”
Others sounded off in the comments of the post, voicing similar outrage over the potential harm the assignment’s messaging could have on young, impressionable students. Many people worried it would confuse kids into thinking that running from the police is harmless.
“Really????? This is programming at its lowest,” one person wrote.
Others were aghast at the use of the word “mop” in the text, which can be used as a slang word for a firearm.
“Mop!!? You should be beyond furious,” another person commented.
Whiters also pointed out in a later comment that messaging like this could be traumatic for children who have lost parents in situations involving police. “It’s a very sensitive situation,” she wrote.
The post has now been shared more than 1,400 times.
Angered parents and community members reached out to the school to voice their concerns, which ultimately got the attention of the school district.
Pittsburgh Public Schools addressed the issue in a Facebook post on Sept. 26, calling the assignment “inappropriate,” but claiming that the worksheet was not a part of the district’s curriculum.
“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 statement continues.
According to the statement, the district was investigating the source of the materials, but added, “As this is a personnel matter no further information is available.”
Whiters shared a follow-up post the next day, expressing that she felt she had accomplished her goal in sharing the assignment by bringing widespread awareness to the issue.
“I will not tolerate nor ignore the way our school system teach our children. The purpose was to open parents eyes and mouths when you see something not right with their schoolwork,” Whiter wrote. “Not only did my post go viral it made AWARENESS and meetings were set right away to resolve the issue.”
Pittsburgh Public Schools did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
This story was reported from Los Angeles.