Fayette Co. school’s homework question about police being criticized

Published: Sep. 2, 2020 at 5:40 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A spokesperson for Fayette County Public Schools says an assignment asked students to answer four questions after reading an article about the NBA playoff games being postponed following player boycotts.

The question asks “What is the relationship between Jacob Blake and Breonna Taylor?” With the first answer stating “both were victims of police violence, sparking protests against racial injustice.

The Kentucky Peace Officers’ Association’s post said the question targets law enforcement officers.

“While it is the responsibility of educational leaders to shape the future, it is not their right to do so in a manner designed to intentionally and negatively influence young minds and promote a political agenda,” KPOA President Chip Nowlin wrote in a statement.

Fayette County Public Schools spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall responded to criticism of the assignment saying, “While we appreciate that some believe the topic was too mature for fifth graders, it is critical that our classrooms be safe places where students can discuss current events.”

Brigitte Blom Ramsey, president and CEO of the Prichard Committee, an organization dedicated to improving education statewide, says giving students context about current events is key.

“The teacher is clearly trying to prompt a deeper understanding of what’s going on in current events giving students the multiple choice answers, letting them reflect on what is going on, so it seems to be a wonderful example of a teacher trying to encourage conversation about current events,” Ramsey said.

WKYT could not confirm the name of the teacher or school where this assignment was given. Deffendall said it was part of social studies homework last week on current events.

“Fayette County Public Schools is committed to helping students become civically engaged citizens who are wise consumers of digital media able to think critically about the world around them,” said Deffendall. “That requires we address difficult topics and teach students to have civil conversations with people who have different points of view.”

Deffendall said the teacher did not create this assignment. It came from a resource that is regularly used in the district called Newsela.

“When our educators are designing curriculums based on what a media company reports with no other facts, and using wording designed specifically to mold negative opinions of anyone wearing a uniform, we have a problem,” Nowlin said. “As the Commonwealth’s oldest professional organization of law enforcement officers, the KPOA will continue to speak out in support of all the dedicated public servants who run toward situations when everyone else is running away.”

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