The powers that be at North Oldham High School in Louisville can’t fathom what all the fuss is about. Station WDRB quotes Oldham County Schools spokeswoman Tracy Green as saying of the student art project that has angered parents:
When discussing social injustice, people will likely be offended by some topic. The drawing is a student’s artistic representation based on the lens through which the student viewed that issue and the student has a First Amendment right to share that opinion.
The teacher in whose room the poster hangs agrees, arguing, “It’s a really good example and shows how racial violence has evolved.”
One parent, Dave Hamblin, voiced concerns not only about the picture, which hangs in his daughter’s classroom, but about how far it deviates from the assignment that led to its being displayed. He wrote in a Facebook post:
This Honors English class read the Pulitzer Prize Winning book, ‘To Kill A Mockingbird,’ by Harper Lee, and were supposed to do art, based on the book.
The book is a beautiful piece of art describing social and familial dilemmas of the early 1900s, and has NOTHING to do with the hatred filled propaganda coming from some in this country today. The ‘art’ is not from a student in the class, it was from a student last year and the teacher liked it so much she placed it back on the wall.
So what is the subject of the drawing that has Hamblin’s hackles up? Here it is:
WDRB describes it this way:
The artwork depicts two scenes: A flashback to 1930 with a member of the Ku Klux Klan wearing a white hood and pointing a gun at an black man with the Confederate flag below it; the other side of the picture says 2015 and features a police officer pointing a gun at an African American child with the American flag below it.
Hamblin has requested that the picture be removed from the classroom, maintaining that it “seems that the school and school administrators believe this to be an appropriate form of discourse and educationally noteworthy.” The father, who works in law enforcement, added:
What this propaganda creates, are future cop haters, which endanger me, and 800,000 other courageous protectors. We speak of tolerance, we speak of changing hostile environments, we speak of prejudice, and we speak of racial relations, yet, when it comes to hostility toward police, their families, and profiling them through bigotry we are expected to tolerate it. I will not, nor will my child.
In an interview with WDRB, a video of which follows, he added:
It’s comparing a race-based ideology, or the KKK, to that of professional workers who serve their country day-in and day-out. There’s propaganda and there’s the First Amendment. They’re two different things, especially in a government-run classroom.
But Tracy Green is sticking to her (dare it be said?) guns:
As educators, we play an important role in preparing our students for the world that exists outside our own buildings. These topics can be divisive and upsetting to people on all sides of these issues but part of our role is to give students an opportunity to discuss those.
She conceded that Hamblin isn’t the only parent who complained about the poster, noting that the decision whether to take down it rests with the teacher who inappropriately displayed it in the first place.