The Dallas Independent School District got itself into controversy after a Winnie-the-Pooh book about how to stay safe in the event of a school shooting was sent home with elementary school students.
Parents were not provided any advanced notice or context for the materials given to their children, the Oak Cliff Advocate reported, prompting DISD to issue an apology:
“The reality that Dallas ISD faces is no different than any other school district in America. We work every day to prevent school shootings by dealing with online threats and by hardening our schools. In addition, we conduct active shooter drills, so students know what to do in case the unthinkable happens.”
“Recently a booklet was sent home so parents could discuss with their children how to stay safe in such cases. Unfortunately, we did not provide parents any guide or context. We apologize for the confusion and are thankful to parents who reached out to assist us in being better partners.”
As previously reported by The Dallas Express, there has been tension in DISD over what educational materials or books are appropriate for students. While a lot of previous concerns had to do with what some community members consider obscene and sexually-explicit content, the district’s latest misstep has put a focus on the new reality of insufficient school security, barely more than one year out from the mass shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde.
One of the book’s passages reportedly reads:
“If danger is near, do not fear. Hide like Pooh does until the police appear. Doors should be locked and the passage blocked. Turn off the light to stay out of sight.”
“If danger finds us, don’t stay, run away. If we can’t get away, we have to FIGHT with all our might. As Kanga and Roo do, it is better to fight together.”
While not necessarily opposed to the book’s intention, DISD parent Cindy Campos told WFAA that she wished she had been advised her children would be given the material, calling the move “tone deaf” in light of the recent first anniversary of the Uvalde shooting.
“It’s hard because you’re reading them a bedtime story and basically now you have to explain in this cute way what the book is about, when it’s not exactly cute,” Campos said.
The controversy prompted anti-gun California Gov. Gavin Newsom to politicize the issue, tweeting, “Winnie the Pooh is now teaching Texas kids about active shooters because the elected officials do not have the courage to keep our kids safe and pass common sense gun safety laws.”
Others online, however, drew a different conclusion, pointing out that armed self-defense had been a longstanding feature of Winnie-the-Pooh cartoons. A Twitter user posted still frames showing Winnie-the-Pooh arising from bed with a gun after hearing suspicious noises at his front door.
— Hugh G. Rection (@Chuckrapp73) May 29, 2023