Takiema Reynolds and Lawrence Gillman, of Queens, NY, are proud that their five-year-old daughter is learning how to spell at school.
“She’s learning how to spell play, park and school and stuff like that,” Reynolds told local reporters.
But when they found out that their daughter’s kindergarten teacher had assigned homework that included the words ‘gun’ and ‘rob,’ they became outraged.
“I looked at it and I seen the word ‘gun’ on it. The first thing I thought was ‘oh no no no,’ I don’t want you reading it, I don’t want you spelling it. I don’t even want you looking at the picture,” Gillman explained to reporters.
Reynolds worried about what message the spelling worksheet, which had cartoon images of a gun and a robber running with a gun and a bag of money, was sending to her child.
“You’re teaching them that guns are okay because you’re putting it in their homework, you’re teaching them that robbing is okay because you’re putting it in their homework,” said the girl’s mother.
“For them to have that type of homework already, like really,” she added.
Reynolds immediately filed a complaint with the school, PS 201. The teacher apologized for the mishap, saying that she grabbed the assignment from an old workbook that was not part of the Dept. of Education’s sanctioned curriculum.
The school’s principal has vowed to review all assignments moving forward.
Upon hearing news of the incident, several parents at the school said Gillman and Reynolds’ reaction went a little overboard.
“It’s not like we live in a place where we don’t see guns,” said Crystal McDowell, who has a son in Kindergarten.
“If, down the road, they have to write an essay about gun violence, they have to know how to spell the word gun,” said Schevon Conner.
Also weighing in on the situation was Dr. Peggy McNamara, chair of teacher education at the Bank Street College of Education. She said the problem is not just with the teacher, but with the company who produced the worksheet.
“I think the issue would be with this particular company. What are they thinking about when they put ‘gun’ and ‘rob’ on a page?” said McNamara. “Do they really think about where this goes and the sensitivities of different communities where a kid might use this?”
So, what are your thoughts? Should kindergarteners be exposed to words like ‘gun’ and ‘rob’ in school? Are the parents justified in complaining about the worksheet? Do you fault the teacher? The company who produced the worksheet? The school?
If you have children, how and when do you educate them about firearms?
(I have very little experience in the parenting department, zero actually. So I’m interested to hear your thoughts).