Lesson Plan on Website Compared MLK to Convicted Cop Killer

Monday, 14 Apr 2014 11:08 AM

By Courtney Coren

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A lesson plan funded by the Department of Education on the website of the Oakland Unified School District in Oakland, Calif., asked students to compare Martin Luther King Jr. to convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.

The district, meanwhile, said the lesson plan hasn't been used since 2004.

The lesson plan was part of a course called "Hidden in Plain Sight — Martin Luther King Jr.'s Radical Vision" and was created for 11th graders. It was part of a civil-rights teaching project called Urban Dreams, which Fox News found on the Oakland school district's website.

The lesson plan asked students "to critically examine a possible parallel" between King and "someone else many believe is currently targeted by the U.S. government, Mumia Abu-Jamal."

Students are given the following statement to consider: "The media, prison system and law enforcement have censored Mumia Abu-Jamal. On one hand, there have been occasional stories in print and broadcast media about Mumia Abu-Jamal. On the other, despite the widespread support for Abu-Jamal that has made his case the most renown and controversial of death penalty cases in the world today, these stories are extremely rare and always refer to him as a 'convicted cop-killer.'"

Abu-Jamal was convicted of killing Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner in 1981.

Maureen Faulkner, Daniel's widow, called the lesson plan an "absolute disgrace."

"It's a travesty," Faulkner told Fox News. "You're going to teach children about a man who murdered a police officer? That's not a good lesson to be teaching children. He was a radical, a militant. My question is: Are our tax dollars paying for this?"

Troy Flint, Oakland Unified School District's public relations director, told The Philadelphia Inquirer that Urban Dreams "is a now-defunct program that was funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education back in 1999 and ran until 2004," Flint said. "So it's been out of operation for about a decade."

Flint told Fox News in an email that the only reason the lesson plan is still available online is because of "an oversight related to technology management; it does not speak to current instructional practice" in the school district.

Flint said that the district "will conduct an inventory of the numerous websites created to support learning districtwide to ensure they conform with our present academic philosophy and do not inadvertently misrepresent Oakland schools."

According to the Inquirer, the lesson plan was on the district website until last week.

Last month, the Senate blocked President Barack Obama's nomination of Debo Adegbile to head the Justice Department's civil rights division. Adegbile previously helped overturn Abu-Jamal's death sentence in the Faulkner killing.

Adegbile argued the case as the Legal Defense Fund's head of litigation in 2011. His nomination for the Justice Department position was opposed by police organizations.

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