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School Project Pulled Due To Fitzsimmons Cartoon

From The Texan:

A cartoon depiction of a police officer which tacitly compared him to a member of the Ku Klux Klan and slave owners was distributed as part of an assignment given by 8th grade social studies teachers in Wylie ISD, a school district primarily in Collin County northeast of Dallas.

The school district removed the assignment today.  

The graphic came to the attention of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), who then sent a letter to the school district explaining its concerns, asking for an apology, and for the assignment to be pulled.

“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 that conversation forward.”

The David Fitzsimmons cartoon, shown above, was originally printed in The Arizona Daily Star;
our image is taken from the Cagle Cartoons site because it had a date attached to it.

The Texan article continued:

[Ian Halperin, Executive Director of Communications and Community Relations for Wylie ISD,] clarified that the district had initially offered an alternative to those families who didn’t want to complete the assignment, but it later pulled the assignment completely.

He added that the original nature of the assignment was “to allow our students to examine the Bill of Rights and to determine if the rights detailed in the document are still as important or impactful today. The teachers wanted to provide the students with current events to analyze the Bill of Rights.”

Other local media are also covering the story.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

“In hindsight, we say that they could have picked a more balanced approach,” Halperin said. “Editorial cartoons have a place in education, but try to present a more balanced approach as an educator.”

Halperin said the district has taken no disciplinary action as the situation is still under review, but officials have met with staff to provide them with better ways to present material under the district’s guidelines.

Wylie resident Amber Jennings said teachers shouldn’t be putting this material out, especially not to 13- or 14-year-old students.

“Don’t indoctrinate our children to think this way,” Jennings said.

Although the incident happened in her school district, Jennings doesn’t blame Wylie ISD. She instead blames the teacher who gave the assignment. Instead of giving this assignment, the teacher should’ve focused on everyday life skills, she said.

NBC Dallas-Fort Worth (KXAS) reported on the controversy:

This week, about 400 eighth graders received an assignment by social studies teachers while discussing the Bill of Rights.

They were instructed to recreate political cartoons depicting current events, including the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

One cartoon by David Fitzsimmons goes on to replace the officer and Floyd with other Black men, dying at the hands of people including a slave trader, a member of the KKK and another law enforcement officer.

Angry parents alerted the district and police unions.

The National Fraternal Order of Police sent a scathing letter to Wylie leaders saying in part:

‘I cannot begin to tell you how abhorrent and disturbing this comparison is, but what is more disturbing is that no adult within your school thought better before sending this assignment to children.’

[Eric Willadsen, president of Richardson’s chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police,] says the damage is done.

“You can’t unsee something once it’s been there, once it’s been presented.”

Community Comments

#1 Paul Berge
August/22/2020
@ 8:16 am

Bet they’ll replace it with a cartoon about how any criticism of the police will leave burglars and rapists and murderers free to break into everyone’s bedroom.

#2 Ben Carlsen
August/26/2020
@ 4:29 pm

Where is the statement from the teacher? All I see are statements from ignorant parents and school administrators trying to save face.

#3 D. D. Degg
August/26/2020
@ 6:06 pm

One news story said the school district is refusing to disclose
the name of the teacher though it has, of course, leaked out.
With Texas governor calling for his/her head I think it wise s/he
remain silent, possibly on advice from the district’s attorney.
Also: it is my understanding that the assignment was district-wide, but the original parental complaint was over this assignment given to their child and then snowballed by hysteria.

#4 Joy Soler
August/27/2020
@ 4:13 pm

Eric Willadsen, president of Richardson’s chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police,] says the damage is done.

“You can’t unsee something once it’s been there, once it’s been presented.”

apparently Mr Willadsen wants folks to unsee all of the murders at the hands of police. It’s too late though, you can’t un-shoot a gun that’s been shot, you can’t un-murder a person you have murdered.

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