Providence Teachers Union Confirms Affinity Group Segregation, Historical Books Destroyed, Holocaust Education Ended (Ramona Bessinger Update)
Union president: “So there’s people of color in one group and white folks in another group…. both the people of color and our teachers of color and our white teachers have said that they’re uncomfortable with it … some people feel like this is further segregationist and feel like it’s more divisive than helpful.”
Ramona Bessinger is the Providence, Rhode Island, middle school teacher who went public in a post at Legal Insurrection about the negative impact of Critical Race teaching, I’m A Middle School Teacher And See How Critical Race Curriculum Is Creating Racial Hostility In School:
This past 2020/21 school year was a sad and worrisome turning point for me as an educator. Providence K-8 teachers were introduced to one of the most racially divisive, hateful, and in large part, historically inaccurate curriculums I have ever seen in my teaching career.
Yes, I am speaking about the controversial critical race theory that has infiltrated our public schools here in Rhode Island under the umbrella of Cuturally Responsive learning and teaching, which includes a focus on identities. You won’t see the words “critical race theory” on the materials, but those are the concepts taught. The new, racialized curriculum and materials focuses almost exclusively on an oppressor-oppressed narrative, and have created racial tensions among students and staff where none existed before….
We did not need a new curriculum for students to learn about slavery and racism. We already did that, in great depth, relying in part on the writings of great African-American authors.
American history now is being retold exclusively from the perspective of oppressed peoples during the Revolutionary period through to the Civil War, and also in the literature of the Civil Rights movement. From my position in the classroom, it seemed that much of American history and literature was getting wiped out….
Missing from our curriculum during the 2020/ 21 school year was the diversity, perspective, truth, and rigor that previously were taught. Previously vetted books were removed from our classroom and sent to recycling. Gone was the diverse collection of American and World Literature: House On Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, James Baldwin Go Tell It On The Mountain, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, essays by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., poetry by Maya Angelou, Robert Frost, Anne Frank, Night, The Boy In The Striped Pajamas, Macbeth, Walt Whitman, The Salem Witch Trials, The Crucible , Holocaust studies, world genocide, world art, universal themes, universal characters and any book or short story from the literary cannon.
What saddened me most was that I would not be teaching the Holocaust any longer. The Holocaust unit included one of the following: either Anne Frank, The Boy In The Striped Pajamas, and depending on reading level, Elie Weisel’s Night When I asked the school reading coach where all the Holocaust books were, she said “we do not teach the Holocaust because kids can’t relate to the story.”
Bessinger pointed out the growing racial hostility:
Teachers were encouraged to participate in “white educator affinity groups” where we would be given essays on how not to be a white supremacist in the classroom.
This was a system-wide directive to separate white and non-white teachers for training….
Midway through the academic year, some students started calling me “America” because I was white. These students, whom I love, were turning against me because of my skin color. I don’t blame them, I blame the racial narratives being forced upon them in school.
Several of my colleagues stated I had “white privilege.” I was quickly made to feel as though I was becoming the enemy. My black colleagues added more similar comments in passing, for example: “You have white privilege Bessinger, your gestures are a rich person’s gestures.”
Bessinger’s story has spread nationally, including in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Examiner, FoxNews.com, Breitbart, and The Jewish Voice. Like Rhode Island mom Nicole Solas before her, Bessinger used a column at Legal Insurrection to alert the nation to the dangers of CRT as it manifests itself in K-12.
Much as Solas was smeared by a public relations firm hired by the South Kingstown School Committee and that district’s local NEA-affiliate, I expected similar attacks on Bessinger. Those smears and attacks may come (and may already be going on), but something completely unexpected happened today.
Maribeth Calabro, the head of the Providence Teachers Union, an affiliate of Randi Weingarten’s American Federation of Teachers, appeared on the show of talk radio host Tara Granahan on WPRO, one of the two large AM stations in Providence. While Calabro denied that CRT is taught in middle school, she backed up many of the key factual assertions by Bessinger about removal of historical books and books by great authors, including black authors, the narrowing of the curriculum, and the removal of teaching the Holocaust. She also confirmed that the school system separates white and non-white teachers into separate affinity groups to discuss issues related to race.
Here is the full segment broadcast, with a partial transcipt below. I’m still shaking my head in disbelief in a good way.
(if player doesn’t load, click here)
Partial Transcript (auto-generated, may contain transcription errors)
Granahan: Okay, do you have any knowledge of, uh, did she ever come to you let’s say and say, you know, some of these examples of listen, I don’t, you know, things have changed for me. Um, you know, kids are calling me ‘Merica saying, I, you know, because she’s white and there’s just a, such a disconnect, if not a bad rapport now with the students, have you heard any of these complaints or concerns?
Calabro: She hasn’t brought those specifics to me or this organization, that I’m aware of. I mean, I, you know, I just checked in with folks around here and no, so the answer is no, I do know that she was unhappy and she voiced her concerns on a public forum. I believe it was either, I believe it was a RIDE [Rhode Island Department of Education], it was a RIDE meeting talking about the curriculum changes, moving to American Reading Company from what we used to do. So she did, she did say that publicly. Yes.
Granahan: Okay. So in, in her writings, this particular Providence teacher, Ms. Bessinger, she talks about, we did not need a new curriculum for students to learn about slavery and racism. We already did that in great depth, relying in part on the writings of great African-American authors. And then she says missing from our curriculum during this past year, 20-21 school year, was the diversity perspective, truth and rigor that previously were taught previously, vetted books were removed from our classroom and sent to recycling. Gone was the diverse collection of American and world literature house On Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. James Baldwin’s Go Tell It On The Mountain. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, essays by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Poetry by Maya Angelo, Robert Frost, and Frank Knight, The Boy in Striped Pajamas, Macbeth, Walt Whitman. It goes on and on. These books have all been tossed?
Calabro: They’re not utilized, they’re not being utilized unless students choose books from the shelf for their personal independent reading. So what, what the American reading company does is, it’s an assessment based direct instruction product where students take an assessment to, to gauge their reading level. And then there are a variety of books at that reading level, on a variety of topics, that students can choose. And then teachers have books that they are supposed to be utilizing in their instruction, based on the scope and sequence of, of the, um, directions coming from the American Reading Company. So to give you an example, in middle school where I was, the sixth grade does Greek, Greek gods, Greek myths, and things like that, in seventh grade, it was American history. So what happens is the English language arts and history are now the humanities.
And so they’re taught in tandem. And so there’s identified standards that there are focused on and then identified specific books and, and tasks that students are being asked to complete. And so for this year, one of the texts was about the Revolutionary War, and then we went to the Battle of Bull Run. So there was a lot of missing content if you will, and I think that’s where Ramona, Ms. Bessinger is talking about the gap in what’s happening and, and to be, you know, to be honest, the rigor is not there, and in terms of the book selection and the topics that are being discussed.
Granahan: Why, what, what happened? What, what is the shift about?
Calabro: I think that it was the shift was made to the American Reading Company in the hopes that it would be a supportive product to help improve student reading, student understanding, comprehension, et cetera. But what I think that it lacks is in depth, critical analysis for students to become critical thinkers. And so, and there are gaps. Like I said, we went from, you know, the Revolutionary War to the Battle of Bull Run, and there’s a whole host of things that happened in between those two topics that was missed by our students. And so I think it puts them at a disadvantage to have a curriculum that is not encompassing of all of historical history, in a relatively sequential manner, because obviously what happened in the past impacts what’s happening, what happened in the future and what is currently happening now,
Granahan: … This is kind of mind boggling when you go through some of the authors that we all grow up with, you know, and to take out Dr. Martin Luther king Jr, or Maya Angelo who was my favorite poet, and Anne Frank, not learning about the Holocaust. This particular teacher, went on to say, what saddened me most was that I would not be teaching the Holocaust any longer. The Holocaust unit included one of the following either Anne Frank, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. And depending on the reading level, Elie Wiesel’s Night. And when I asked the school reading coach where all the Holocaust books were, she said, quote, we do not teach the Holocaust because kids can’t relate to the story. How is that possible?
Calabro: I don’t, I don’t know what that rationale was that to me even make that comment, but, you know, it, it used to be a couple of years ago, a few years ago. And before that, that we taught about the Holocaust specifically, we taught about the Vietnam war and we taught about enslavement of peoples indigenous peoples. And, African-Americans. What’s happening now is we’re doing touch points and we’re not digging deep enough. I don’t think to provide our students with the foundation that they need to be critical thinkers or analytical thinkers. And I think we’re doing them a disservice by giving them this, flash in the pan, very superficial understanding of historical events that have been chosen obviously by the company and not by, you know, what actually happened in history.
Granahan: So Marybeth, is that what critical race thinking is, let’s get rid of the old way of teaching. Let’s focus more on what, what are, what, what are we doing? What in your mind is critical race thinking, teaching?
Calabro: I don’t know what critical race theory. I don’t know that there’s a standardized definition of critical race theory. And, I can tell you that we don’t teach critical race theory in our schools. What I can say is that there has been a shift in curriculum and curriculum products, that was made by people other than teachers. It was made at a much higher level, and teachers have complained across the district about the change, and the lack of rigor that these products have brought to our district.
Granahan: So are they known to be behind critical race theory? Is that what it is? Is this particular company behind what people are starting to understand if they can critical race theory?
Calabro: I don’t think that they are, I mean, I don’t know that much about the American Reading Company’s perspectives and origins to make that leap. But I can say that critical race theory is a term that is clearly being weaponized across the country, for a whole host of reasons. But, we don’t specifically teach white folks are bad. And we teach, we’re looking to teach, or we’re seeking to teach. the truth….
Granahan: … what’s the truth. I mean, the fact that, you know, the historical facts happened and then people can form an opinion as they get, grow and experience and get older, but, you know, changing the curriculum is one thing, but throwing out books that were historically valid in my opinion seems bizarre.
Colabro: Oh, it’s, it’s listen. I have as a, you know, typically English teacher, and a person who is an avid reader, the fact that books were thrown away at all makes me nauseous. And those weren’t the only books that were thrown away. That unfortunately, that’s what this district does, and has done historically, is when they change curriculum or they change courses, they throw out the old, rather than keeping them for resources or providing them to schools, whether it be in our district, in our state, in our country or outside of our country who cannot afford the resources, we throw them in a dumpster. That to me is the sin of this whole thing.
Granahan: Marybeth, could you hold on just a moment so I can squeeze in a break here. All right. We’re going to come right back, Marybeth Colabro from the Providence Teachers Union, the president, we’ll be right back. I have two questions for you, and I don’t have much time, but are you finding teachers other than this one particular teacher that wrote, you know, spoke out and wrote about it, are other teachers coming to you saying, what the hell is this all about?
Colabro: They’re coming to me more about the gaps in the curriculum, … the lack of rigor. So their concern is that we’re not teaching in a sequential manner, first of all. And second of all, we’re skipping very significant historical events, the Holocaust being one….
Granahan: Are they saying it’s too it’s too race-based as opposed to just give us the historical events?
Collabro: No, no, no, no, no, no. Not at all. Not at all. I think that, I just think that the way that the American Reading Company is designed is to basically being like, again, an overview rather than a deep dive into historical perspectives, and it will hurt in the long run. It will hurt our students’ ability to make critical and impactful decisions.
Granahan: What is it to, what, what is this thing that I have gotten several emails on, including looking at a memo and I don’t have it in front of me, but is there such a thing as affinity groups where white teachers are in one group and teachers of color are in a separate group? Yes or no?
Granahan: Why, why is that?
Colabro: Um, well, historic and, you know, historically the, and talking about, and having difficult conversations about race, racism and bias, the groups are separated by affinity. So there there’s people of color in one group and white folks in another group. And so that people of color can feel safe as, as well as white people feel safe about how they are interacting, feeling about racism, race, and the, all of the things that are impacting us. It’s not meant to be divisive. It’s just meant to be a safe space for people to be able to speak freely.
Granahan: And how long has this been going on? You said historically, but technically how long?
Colabro: This past year we, we had affinity groups. We have had affinity groups.
Granahan: Okay. And no one’s complaining about that. Or people say I’m feeling very uncomfortable that I’m on the white side of the room, and then there’s a people of color on the other side of the room.
Colabro: So it’s voluntary and people who are not comfortable. And we have had people, many people on, on, of both the people of color and our teachers of color and our white teachers have said that they’re uncomfortable with it, but, you know, talking about race and racism is uncomfortable. I think that some people feel like this is further segregationist and feel like it’s more divisive than helpful. But, you know, like I said, it was voluntary and, it’s hard to have difficult conversations if people are feeling guarded in a room where everyone is engaged
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Diversity [dogma] (i.e. color judgment), including racism, sexism, ageism, that denies individual dignity, individual conscience, intrinsic value, and normalizes color blocs (e.g. the racist label “people of color”), color quotas, and affirmative discrimination, breeds adversity through social progress: one step forward, two steps backward. That said, diversity of individuals, minority of one, Baby Lives Matter
She says very clearly in the interview that the reason the Holocaust and classics are no longer being taught is because Providence Schools switched to American Reading company curriculum. I have taught this curriculum. When you are teaching it, you can only use the books that are in it. That is according to the company. The topics are in 3 month increments, so only 3-4 topics are taught in a year. They do not allow you to teach anything outside the curriculum. That is why all those wonderful books and the Holocaust is not being taught. The change has to do with the new curriculum. It has nothing to do with critical race theory.
Is tar and feathering still a thing?
Time to bring it back.
I loved her comment: “So there there’s people of color in one group and white folks in another group. And so that people of color can feel safe as, as well as white people feel safe about how they are interacting, feeling about racism, race, and the, all of the things that are impacting us. It’s not meant to be divisive. It’s just meant to be a safe space for people to be able to speak freely.”
When I worked as a tractor mechanic in Alabama in the 1960’s, all the restaurants had safe spaces for “colored” separate from whites, and they used the same kind of language as this woman. They said it was to make colored people feel safe about how they are interacting and to be able to speak freely.
Frankly, racial segregation is racist, and no amount of BS using all the “woke” leftist language will ever make it anything but evil. If I were a teacher there, I would refuse to participate in any segregated activities.
It kept all the wypipos feeling safe about catching cooties from toilets, drinking fountains, or (heaven forbids) motel room beds!
Ah, “good times.” They’re finally a-comin’ back.
Abolish Government Schools
Racism is racism, and dressing up that pig with new lipstick changes nothing. This will end badly for our neo Nazis in the white house.
That may be wishful thinking …
There are a lot of empty gibbets about; for an image, think of Madmartigan in the “Dark Crystal”
So WPRO hosted the interview, did they?
I’m so old, I remember when WPRO’s slogan was “Color Radio.”
That’s pretty rayciss, isn’t it?
“Brush your teeth and say your prayers, kids! Say g’night, Jeff!” “Arf, arf!”
This CRT insanity and cultural gutter is a terminal cancer to our society that is at the extreme opposite of the superior creed of America, i.e. Liberty, In God We Trust and E Pluribus Unum. It comes from mentally defective and inferior people.
Who the hell do these [email protected]@@@s think they are, experimenting with your children? Yes, it is a human subjects experiment, without consent, of a Nuremberg-principles-violation character.
CRT or whatever name the left try to hide it under in any venue is psychologically highly unsound if not long-term catastrophic with respect to children’s mental health and is highly likely to result in long-term alienation from you and mental illnesses in your children.. My family has already been there as a result of far leftism in the university my sibling attended.
It is sodomy of your children’s minds, much like pedophilia is sodomy of their bodies that will result in long-term psychological scarring.
Treat the purveyors of this madness as sodomizing pedophiles. They are your family’s existential enemy.
One of the best questions that needs to be asked when someone responds as here that “we are not TEACHING CRT to the students” is to ask, are you teaching the students to analyze current social problems through the lens or frame work of race? If so, that is actually CRT as it is being taught to EDUCATORS to be a tool for ‘critical thinking’ or ‘analysis’ in the classroom as the interview shows here:
“What’s happening now is we’re doing touch points and we’re not digging deep enough. I don’t think to provide our students with the foundation that they need to be critical thinkers or analytical thinkers”
This past week a national entity that works with school districts all over the country touted this vision http://remakelearning.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Remaking-Tomorrow-What-Comes-Next-web.pdf
It includes a commitment to JUSTICE for All learners, which it defines in a way that Marx would have recognized as his Human Development Society vision. That paper though also linked to a 2019 Profile of a Learner. So before the pandemic and when no one had heard of George Floyd; we have a call that:
“Learners are challenged to question, examine, and dissect social systems, developing the confidence to address and deconstruct inequalities; and to construct a more just and equitable world.
CRT in whatever form is simply a tool to justify this widespread new purpose of K-12 education. That the students are being primed to remake the existing world and society, that they actually will know remarkably little about apart from theory like CRT, into “a more just and equitable world.”
Honestly, with the lack of factual knowledge, it’s more likely to function like “Lord of the Flies”.
CRT is teaching the opposite of critical thinking. I think that teaching CRT by any name should be a capital crime.
Critical thinking in education doesn’t have the common sense dictionary meaning. The references here to ‘deeper thinking,’ which is a long-time initiative of the Hewlett Foundation in k-12 that now lines up with their broader system transformation efforts that they are calling the Law and Political Economy Framework for a Moral Society, are a dead giveaway that we are dealing with abstractions to guide perception of the actual world. (the Concrete).
Critical thinking is one of the 4 cs of 21st century skills needed supposedly by all students. To go back to the Profile of the Learner I mentioned below. Critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, communication, and collaboration are deemed to allow all “learners are prepared for an increasingly technology-driven future. Learners are empowered to identify and solve problems that affect themselves and their communities; to fail, retry, and learn from mistakes; to express their creativity in authentic ways; and to both struggle and have fun.”
Knowledge in this vision means assigned concepts, like structural racism, not factual knowledge. That’s why she also references, English, history, and civics as all being designated as Humanities. Humanities provides concepts and categories of thought about the human or social world around us. STEM subjects are no longer a body of scientific or algorithmic knowledge. They are concepts to be used in evaluating and perceiving the physical world.
Everything in education now is preparation for transformational change, starting at the level of the human mind. CRT is just another tool for that. It is the human mind and personality that are the bullseye in this vision.
So…Calabro “[doesn’t] know what critical race theory….[doesn’t] know that there’s a standardized definition of critical race theory” yet can state affirmatively that they “don’t teach critical race theory in our schools”….
How does that work? You “don’t know” what something is, yet you DO know that you’re not teaching it?
This woman doesn’t make any sense. She’s full of it.
That was an impressive list of things the district is doing that are ‘not CRT/Equity’. All of them bad.
It was also quite a summation of a theory known as Ascending from the Abstract to the Concrete and just how thoroughly it permeates now what it means to be ‘literate’ and engaging ‘in rigor’. Essentially she is upset because the Holocaust books are not being used because, like slavery, it is an excellent Concrete illustration of man’s inhumanity to man. That’s why Facing History and Ourselves in 2021 has created both a Reconstruction set of instructional activities for teachers along with the Holocaust. Theories need concrete illustrations even if they are actually not historically accurate. The technical term used now by History professional associations is quite literally Guiding Fictions–useful beliefs in other words.
Remember this statement of outrage issued in June https://www.aaup.org/sites/default/files/Statement-Efforts-Restrict-Teaching-Race-Final_0.pdf is upfront that “Knowledge of the past exists to serve the needs of the living.”
Of course, a Guiding Fiction is OK if a teacher simply wants “tools necessary for citizenship in the 21st century” to supposedly see “the forces that shape our world today.” The Why of both CRT and conceptual frameworks generally is to guide perception and make sure daily experiences are then seen as examples of the desired theories–Theory in Practice as Uncle Karl called it, as well as far too many educators at every level.
Funny how the left that lives in a world that every day is years zero claim without their lies about history in CRT your not teaching history.
“CRT or whatever name the left try to hide it under in any venue”
In his new book, “Fault Lines”, Voddie Baucham provides clear definitions of Critical Theory, Critical Social Justice, and Critical Race Theory. In order to do this properly, he uses quotations from books and speeches by the proponents of these beliefs. This information can be helpful when someone tries to gaslight you.
CRT is what is currently being taught in “schools of education”, and is what many teachers of America’s children will be teaching them. It will not be called “Critical Race Theory”, but it will consist of the components thereof.
Laws will not prevent thoroughly indoctrinated teachers from slipping their beliefs into their classrooms. The best protection for children is for their parents to put them in a school they can trust, or to homeschool them.
Who ever thought that “Never Again” would be the teachers union’s view towards teaching about the Holocaust?
“…she said “we do not teach the Holocaust because kids can’t relate to the story.”
Sadly, this explanation makes sense, because, the vile, goose-stepping, brownshirt youth of the Dhimmi-crat Party are now the ones desecrating and vandalizing synagogues across the U.S. (as “Anti-fa” and “Black Lives Matter” goons did, throughout year 2020); they are the Muslim thugs roaming around in gangs, attacking American Jews in the streets; and, they are the fanatics on college campuses who engage in utterly despicable, fallacious, slanderous and evil vilification of Israel and Israeli Jews, while gullibly whitewashing Islam’s supremacist, totalitarian and hate-filled pathologies, and, while blindly parroting and promoting utterly contrived propaganda mythologies of alleged Arab Muslim victimhood.
Yuri Bezmenov. Look him up. Watch his videos.
Amen to that! I found him about four years ago. He KNEW and UNDERSTOOD what was happening/going to happen in America long before the public ever became aware and woke up. I thin of all the chances we had to stop this so long ago, and we blew it.
I wonder if all the school systems adopting the program offered by the American Reading Company know what they are getting into. If they do, this is a more serious problem than we realize. The reviews by former and current employees of ARC are quite revealing. Spend a little time here reading the “Cons” in these employee writeups: https://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/American-Reading-Company-Reviews-E262275.htm