Police officers in Upstate New York are furious after a local elementary school assigned its students a book on race relations that included stories about shootings of African Americans by cops who ‘don’t like black people.’
The controversy erupted after the MacArthur Elementary School in Binghamton selected a children’s book, Something Happened in Our Town (A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice), as its book of the month for April.
The book, which was written by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins and Ann Hazzar, tells the story of two children, one white and one black, and how they experience race in America, WBNG-TV reported.
The plot of the book tells of a police-involved shooting and how children at a local school processed the news.
‘Why did the police shoot that man?’ one of the protagonists, Emma, asks her mother.
‘It was a mistake,’ said the mother. ‘I feel sad for the man and his family.’
Police in Upstate New York were angered when a local public school in Binghamton read aloud a children’s book to students, Something Happened in Our Town (A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice), as its book of the month for April
Police said that the book, which tells the story of a police-involved shooting as seen through the eyes of a white and a black child, teaches students that cops are racist
‘Yes, the police thought he had a gun,’ the father said.
Emma’s sister, Liz, chimes in: ‘It wasn’t a mistake. The cops shot him because he was Black.’
In another part of the book, Liz says: ‘Some White people still think most Black men and boys are dangerous, even though they’re not.’
The book also depicts a conversation among a black family in which a youngster, Josh, is told by his parents and brother that a police officer who shot an African American won’t go to jail.
‘Cops stick up for each other,’ Josh’s brother, Malcolm, tells him. ‘And they don’t like Black men.’
Josh’s father said that even though police officers are black, ‘we can’t always count on them to do what’s right.’
Josh’s family also tells him that the police ‘wouldn’t have even stopped the car’ if it was a white driver rather than a black driver.
The book was read aloud to students and video of the reading was posted to YouTube. It has since been taken down.
The book was real aloud to students at MacArthur Elementary School (above). Video of the reading was posted to YouTube, but then removed
The Binghamton Police Benevolent Association, the union representing members of the Binghamton Police Department, put out a statement blasting the city’s education department for allowing the book to be read to students.
‘The Binghamton Police Benevolent Association feels that this book can leave children with several erroneous impressions,’ the union said.
The BPBA said that the book teaches kids that they ‘should not trust, and should be afraid of the police’ and that ‘police stop, arrest, and kill black people for no other reason than their race.’
The union also said the book leaves children with the impression that ‘police are racist’ and that cops ‘are not held accountable for their actions and indiscretions.’
The union added: ‘We agree there are necessary conversations and dialogue to be had about tolerance, race, and what children can do to be a part of the change and solution not only in their schools, but their community as well.
‘The P.B.A. wholeheartedly supports bringing people together to strengthen and create strong relationships and connections within our community.
‘We are committed to and invested in the children and families who reside in the City of Binghamton to which we took an oath to serve and protect.
‘While we recognize that it is not incumbent on us to determine what should be taught in schools, we feel that the language in this book works to undermine public safety and will leave children with the impression that they cannot trust the police.’
The Binghamton City School District released a statement on Monday apologizing to the local police ‘for the negative light this has shined on their profession.’
The district said that ‘in no way does this book represent our thinking or beliefs about our police.’
The Binghamton Police Benevolent Association condemned the use of the book
On Tuesday, Derek Chauvin, the white former Minneapolis police officer who knelt on the neck of a black man, George Floyd, 46, last spring, was convicted of all charges against him, including second- and third-degree murder as well as second-degree manslaughter.
Last week, parents and teachers from New York City private schools that charge more than $50,000 annual tuition accused educators there of indoctrinating students with ‘woke’ anti-racism material.
Manhattan-based Grace Church School teacher Paul Rossi was ousted from the classroom on Monday after he accused the school of ‘indoctrinating’ students with antiracist lessons ‘at the cost of students’ psychological and intellectual development’.
In an essay shared on former New York Times editor Bari Weiss’s Substack, Rossi said he could no longer stay silent while ‘witnessing the harmful impact’ that the curriculum has on children.
Days later, another elite New York City prep school was accused by a parent of brainwashing his child with anti-racism ideology.
Andrew Gutmann, 45, had announced in an April 13 letter shared by journalist Bari Weiss this week that he has chosen not to reenroll his daughter in the all-girls Brearley school where annual tuition is $54,000.
He pulled his daughter from the school over its woke antiracism ‘obsession.’ He accused the school of ‘teaching what to think not how to think.’
The school responded by slamming him for being ‘offensive.’
BINGHAMTON CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT’S FULL STATEMENT
The Binghamton City School District prides itself on its diverse school community.
We were made aware of recent posts on social media and have received several phone calls that expressed concern about the use of a read-aloud book at the elementary level for book of the month titled, ‘Something Happened in Our Town,’ by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins and Ann Hazzard.
The publisher’s suggested audience for the book is ages 4 to 8.
The book is about the experiences and perspectives of two children growing up in the same town and attending the same school, in the same classroom.
One child is black, the other is white and the book develops a rich dialogue about how these children and their families see the world around them from the perspective of race.
The book reflects a national topic that is current and impacts many of our students and their families.
While the book includes conversation around racial bias and injustice against African Americans, the concepts are focused on the importance of treating everyone fairly. As the book shares, ‘there are many cops, black and white, who make good choices.’
The dialogue following the reading of this book draws awareness to bias, emphasizing that it is not okay to judge people based on their race, what they look and sound like, or the role they play in the community.
In an effort to teach about tolerance, the book was shared with students in small reading groups.
Teachers were provided the necessary resources to handle the important questions and dialogue that may arise after reading the book.
The intent behind the use of the book was to promote inclusion and anti-racism.
We support and respect the brave police officers that protect our community.
In no way does this book represent our thinking or beliefs about our police.
It is unfortunate when any profession is portrayed negatively.
We apologize for the negative light this has shined on their profession and commitment to our safety.
The Binghamton City School District has embraced School Resource Officers, each whom have served as outstanding role models for our students.
We are proud of the relationships they and other officers have developed with our students and the school community.