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Ramona Bessinger: I’m A Middle School Teacher Facing Retaliation After Blowing The Whistle On Critical Race Curriculum

Ramona Bessinger: I’m A Middle School Teacher Facing Retaliation After Blowing The Whistle On Critical Race Curriculum

After going public about the radicalized and racialized curriculum changes that have increased racial tensions and distorted education, I have been the subject of escalating retaliation, some of which is racially-tinged, from colleagues and administrators.

I am a Providence, Rhode Island, public middle school teacher with 22 years experience teaching English at the high school and middle school levels. After blowing the whistle on radicalized and racialized curriculum changes that have increased racial tensions and distorted education, I have been the subject of escalating retaliation, some of which is racially-tinged, from colleagues and administrators.

Background – Why I Spoke Out

Over the past year, I have seen a disturbing and frightening radicalization of the school curriculum, in which race became the central focus, with heavy emphasis on oppressor-oppressed narratives. The result was increased racial tension in school, particularly directed against me as a “white” teacher both from students and other teachers.

I decided to blow the whistle on what was happening, and did so in a column at Legal Insurrection on July 13, 2021, I’m A Middle School Teacher And See How Critical Race Curriculum Is Creating Racial Hostility In School:

In that blog post, I covered what I observed happening in school:

I love being a teacher and I care a great deal about my students, almost all of whom are non-white.  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.

I also detailed how vetted classic books by well-known authors, including many African-American authors, were removed from my classroom and replaced with propaganda-style pamplets, and how this new curriculum turned students and staff against me:

I asked a teacher leader what was going on and he looked jokingly at me saying “Comrade, we were told to remove all classroom sets of reading material in order to make room for the incoming sets of books.” I laughed, assuming this was a joke. But it was not a joke, this was real and happening in my school, in my classroom.

In isolation and without historical perspective, the thematic message in every book was clear: White Europeans were and are evil and African Americans were and are victimized by white oppressors. Woven into this new curriculum was a school-wide social push to focus on Black Lives Matter support groups and other social justice identity groups.

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….

Finally, for some students, standing for The Pledge of Allegiance was no longer something they did.  We are not allowed to question why, and the truth is, I knew why.  Already these young people were beginning to hate America. I was the only person standing and the only person that could be heard saying “liberty and justice for all”.

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.”

The school culture for many was becoming increasingly tense. Children asked questions about the never-ending thematic focus on slavery.  They asked me to tell them why I lived in a “white castle.” Where were my students hearing this?  For sure in the new books and new curriculum.

While disagreeing that Critical Race Theory was being taught, even the President of the Providence Teachers Union (an affliliate of the American Federation of Teachers) confirmed on local radio the use of teacher affinity groups and removal of great vetted books previously used.

After my column at Legal Insurrection, I received widespread national and international media attention, including in The Wall Street Journal, FoxNews.com, Fox News television, ABC TV (Tamron Hall Show), as well as multiple radio appearances and digital articles, among many others. I even appeared on Australian television,.

The Escalating And Racially-Tinged Retaliation and Hostile Work Environment

After writing the initial blog post, I received a great deal of support from educators and parents all over the world, yet my administration and colleagues in Providence for the most part were radio silent, that is until school started and the silence turned to retaliation.

The first sign of retaliation was evident even before school restarted, when I received by 2021/2022 teaching assignment.. I was pulled from teaching one of my English classes and assigned to teach using CNN news sources, as well as Time for Kids, in a course structured to rely on racialized articles that separate children by the color of their skin.  After a lengthy review of the biased articles, I could see the message was clear, like the race-based paperbacks and comics style books, articles in CNN News would be the same.

Everything in school now is about race. During orientation, teacher professional development included a”privilege walk,” in which teachers were requested to talk about our personal bias, to share our personal trauma, and to connect with children on their personal trauma. Much of the bias focus was on race. I declined to participate in the voluntary privilege walk, but observed it. We also were told to be surrogate parents to our students, given lesson plans on Malcolm X, and that discussions around justifiable violence towards white people should be taught to children of color.

On the first day of school during professional development orientation the week August 30th, there was a verbal attack on me in front of other staff by one of my colleagues who shouted at me that I had white privilege. This colleague went on to say that she would teach her students Malcom X’s message to use violence as payback for crimes against slaves.  I asked her who the recipient of this Malcolm X style attack would be, and she said everyone who harmed slaves. Since all those people are now dead, clearly the intent was to intimidate me openly at work and to send a message.

During the week of September 13th a student accused me of going on TV to remove “Black books” from school. According to the student, another teacher told him this.

The week of September 20th, my Principal sent me multiple emails during the school day questioning me about my social media posts. He requested a meeting where he grilled me for almost an hour about content in social media posts.  At the end of this meeting, he said he would monitor all my social media but was particularly bothered by my posts exposing the harmful racialized curriculum, books and projects. The message to me was and is clear, I am being watched.

Monday September 27th, a colleague demanded a mediation occur to discuss offense she took when I requested to collaborate.  Again, multiple emails to me asking me to meet during my lunch, and times that were not possible for me.  This teacher would not say what offended her about my request, just that she was demanding a meeting with an administrator present.

On September 29, before a faculty meeting, my Union rep made it a point to say teachers circulated a petition about me.  What exactly is in this petition? He would not say. Judicial Watch has served a public records request seeking the petition against me.

That same day, during a faculty meeting while I was sharing reading strategies with co-teachers, a colleague screamed in front of the group that he did not want to hear my “crap” about anything. This outburst was unsettling and obviously related to my speaking out in the media. The faculty member later apologized in passing, citing a “bad day,” but prior to my speaking out about the curriculum, in 22 years a colleague never had a “bad day” that caused them to scream at me this way.

On October 1, a faculty member told me that students were starting to call me racist. The teacher said that when she asked the students why they feel this way, they could not respond.

The administration was well aware of this retaliation and hostility as it was happening. My union also is aware, but I have not confidence the union will stick up for me and protect my rights. So today I formally filed an internal complaint about the retaliation and hostile work environment. I fear that I am being set up for discipline, transfer, or even termination, so I need to go on record and go public.

The Retaliation Is Intended To Silence Me And Others

The impact of all this retaliation has been hard on me personally.  I love teaching, and I care about my students and the constant badgering takes precious time away from doing my job.  As I watch education transform from a student centered career to a highly racialized, politicized battle ground, I am profoundly sad for all students who are caught in the middle of this hostile environment.

——————

I will post continuing updates on my situation and what is happening in Rhode Island school at my Twitter account, @RamonaBessinger. Featured Image: Me decorating my classroom.

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Comments

“I fear that I am being set up for discipline, transfer, or even termination, so I need to go on record and go public.”

Gosh–even if nothing happens, they so want that fear to be embedded in her, don’t they?

Fight the fear. Stand strong.

I suspect that if you were teaching in the school where Sheldon Whitehouse sends his kids, you would not be encountering these types of problems.

Critical Racists’ Theory presumes diversity [dogma] (i.e. color judgment), not limited to racism. While bias is intrinsic, prejudice is progressive.

Get the kids (and decent teachers) out. Now.

I just want to say to this great Teacher, there are plenty of great schools here in Idaho that would welcome her with open arms.

    JoAnne in reply to GMMiller. | October 4, 2021 at 12:38 pm

    Agree! Where are you located?

    Massinsanity in reply to GMMiller. | October 4, 2021 at 2:08 pm

    While that may be true and good for Idaho, we need for teachers like Ramona Bessinger to stay put where they are and fight the battle for the children of RI as it will benefit us all. In fact, we need more brave teachers and administrators to stand up and fight against this insidious indoctrination.

      SeiteiSouther in reply to Massinsanity. | October 4, 2021 at 3:38 pm

      If she doesn’t get the support she needs, what’s the point in staying put?

        The point of staying would be slowing the decline of society. A few kids might be saved. At great sacrifice.

        There are no “thank you” cards. It’s a thankless Don Quixote type of endeavor into madness.

        I question the wisdom of staying. I also believe that what we are seeing is evil on a Biblical scale. Do you stay and fight that evil, saving whatever souls you can or do you leave and let them descend into hell?

        I’ve talked to a number of people leaving the blue hell hole state I live in and they see it as a Sodom and Gomorrah situation. LA, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, the suffering in these cities is all self inflicted and easily reversible, but their descent into madness is unstoppable. They are satiating their lust for hating something they despise inside their heads and embracing that which pulls them down further as though it were the path to salvation.

      alohahola in reply to Massinsanity. | October 4, 2021 at 7:15 pm

      Great point.

They sound just like communists.

They behave just like communists.

And they’re indoctrinating kids the way communists would.

Guess what they are.

They’re making their move. They are now openly indoctrinating children to hate America. Teaching kids that some are oppressed and some are oppressors — that their parents are oppressors. The oppressors are evil racist white people. And they are born that way. Especially white males. The oppressed must rise up and overthrow the oppressors. Starting in kindergarten.

This is Comrade Biden’s Amerika. These are some of the ‘fundamental transformative changes’ Comrade Obama worked to advance during his eight years.

They would have made many of these changes four years ago. But OrangeManBad got in the way.

And what’s the DC wing of the GOP, as a party, doing about it? Little to nothing. Other than a few pre-packaged sound bites expressing ‘concern’ here and there.

    The Real Truth in reply to JHogan. | October 4, 2021 at 11:27 am

    We are getting closer to a Socialist/Marxist Government every day in America now, and I am sick of it ! The whole thing started with Obama, who was pushed into the office of President by George Soros, and his Billions, and everything EXCEPT when Trump was President has been going DOWNWARD since then. Critical Race Theory should NOT be taught in ANY Schools in America, because it is a LIE ! We MUST take America back from these corrupt, racist, lying, and evil people who are determined to DESTROY our America !

What happens when, after 60 years of promises with no “delivery” of the White Man’s scalp, they figure out that it has all been theater?
What I just illustrated is what many black people wish for.
Not equality nor equity….they want superiority and the revenge that comes with it.
Why you think they like the color purple? Not the movie, but the color of royalty.

“During orientation, teacher professional development included a”privilege walk,” in which teachers were requested to talk about our personal bias”

Privilege? I’ll tell you about “White Privilege”…..it involves eating a lot of home grown vegetables, wearing “hand me downs”, heating the house with wood and having a beat-up 67 Ford F 100 as the family car.
My opportunities on June 3, 1983 were the same as every other kid in my HS graduating class.

Thank you, Ms. Bessinger, for courageously speaking up and for penning this informative post.

    Ben Kent in reply to guyjones. | October 4, 2021 at 2:23 pm

    WATCH OUT

    This is happening in the majority of school districts in America. If you think it’s not happening in yours – you are probably uninformed.

    The teachers unions have decided to push this and therefore it is everywhere. It may be low-key in your southern or western region schools – but don’t be fooled – it is there. In many places the teachers purposely hide it from the parents. They claim they are “just teaching history” or “just teaching english” when in reality they have skewed the curriculum and all the books so that they can impose CRT in stealth-mode, It is sneaky. It undermines parents. They don’t care – they do it anyway.

    If you’re a parent you have to look at the actual curriculum and the books they want your kids to read. My kid brough home a school book that teaches that the USA has a “caste system” like in India. What a load of shit. In a caste system there is no social mobility and the lower caste are doomed to perpetual poverty. Blacks in America are nothing like untouchables caste in India – in fact, it’s an insult to the low-caste Indians to even make such an Apples to Oranges comparison. To illustrate the fallacy think of this – (1) No low-caste Indian could ever be president of the country – but a black American was president of America; (2) There are few if any low-caste millionaires in India – but there are more black millionaires in America than in all of Africa.

    The teachers claim that they don’t teach CRT. It may be technically true. But they teach the concepts and what they teach is based on CRT. So, again, they are very sneaky. They are trained to give parents bullshit talking points like “we don’t teach CRT” or to act dumb by saying “What is CRT”. They are just playing parents for fools.

You will have to find a Charter School if you want to stay in the tdare now.

    Phillygirl1807 in reply to snowshooze. | October 4, 2021 at 12:59 pm

    I left teaching when I became scared of the kids. The teachers union rep sat on the same side as the superintendent when we had a meeting to discuss my forced resignation. I knew at that moment that I couldn’t rely on the union for help and support. If you still want to teach you should move to a red state. You’ve not going to get support from your fellow teachers at your school. They are all in CYA mode.

      How long is it going to take till teachers (and all government employees) begin to use their right under the 2018 JANUS decision to resign from their useless damn union and cease contributing to the union treasury?

You will have to find a Charter School if you want to stay in the trade now.

Where are the parents?

I live in a location where we are political minorities. It is VERY woke. I’ve thus far committed to keeping our kid in public school and causing as much head ache while expending the fewest calories in effort.

I am banned from communicating with the woke Principal because I’ve bitched her out so many times- and didn’t spare her feelings in doing so. I’ve not been lewd nor have I sworn, but I call them on their shit- big time.

If there are ZERO parents coming to bat for you, and this is the way the voters in your area vote, I question the wisdom of staying. Leave.

Ramona: Life is short. Do you really want to work with intolerant people who have threatened you? Your school might not understand it, but tolerant people like you stabilize and civilize a work environment. If you jump ship, others will likely follow. Your school will descend into chaos and misery.

Teachers are in demand, so they need you. They also need you to keep their uncivil world civil. You don’t need them. That stress is not worth it. Jump ship. Charter schools tend to pay less, but they tend to be far less intolerant and political. You likely spent years earning a Master’s degree. Don’t you deserve better than low pay (not much more than a fast food manager) and intolerant jerks with off-the-scale rude behavior from your fellow teachers and school administrators? It’s sounds like those jerks are at the same maturity level as the children you teach.

I feel badly for you. Public education is becoming so dysfunctional. The Orwellian shark has been jumped. Rational, non-hysterical people will have to start their own private schools with strict, no-nonsense curricula, or else homeschool.

A reminder — there are trolls here on LI and elsewhere who smugly tell you that the schools “are not teaching CRT.”

Technically, they’re correct. They indeed aren’t teaching CRT.

They are USING critical race theory. They’re applying it in the schools’ curricula, teaching methods, syllabi, books, and materials. They’re applying it in the classrooms, playgrounds, and hallways. They’re applying it at the school boards, super’s offices, and principals’ offices.

The kids don’t need to learn CRT, they need to learn to hate. That’s what is happening, and that’s how you use CRT.

Come on down to Woodstock Georgia. There is no CRT here.

ms. bessinger–thank you for speaking out–admire your courage and dedication very much–you are the calm, factual voice of reason in the midst of all the “woke” madness around you–your concern for the students is evident and an example to many other members of your profession

the parents in your district, if they truly care for the welfare of their children, should rally to your support–have you made THEM aware of what’s happening?–know for certain that if you did the same around here, parents would be at the school board’s offices right now and for as long as it took–again, thank you

“On October 1, a faculty member told me that students were starting to call me racist. The teacher said that when she asked the students why they feel this way, they could not respond.”

In short, what they’re doing is working.

You’re a brave soul. I hope that you inspire others to stand up and push back.

As an aside, I’ve not read anyone thinking 3 steps ahead in terms of the Soros vision for turning blue states into crime ridden racially divided liberal hell holes that all sane people leave.

If you look at the migration patterns, the country is beginning to fall heavily into red/blue. I’m good with that portion, because in the event of the country splitting, one side will be hamstrung with nothing but agitators/gender studies majors and welfare cheats and illegals while the other states have all the productive members of society, manufacturing… and a lot of upper middle class.

I suppose the future plan is to target blue cities in red states like Texas, but I don’t think that will go too far because of the density of red voters in those states.

Ramona,

You are braver than almost anyone in your shoes right now. Keep up the good work and know that we admire your dedication and courage!

Also, I don’t know how you can maintain poise. I would be sooooo tempted to crack a joke about the white castle by telling the person to stop by for some delicious low cost, high volume sliders.

I’d probably go darker on some others just to jab back, but I can’t always hold my tongue.

I’d guess that most of her “colleagues” are black and hence feeling empowered to act out on these issues. All kinds of threatening behavior is excused with the race card, “in the wake of George Floyd”, etc.

In public that stuff has died out amid widespread disgust, but within the schools it’s trying to accelerate further, and Merrick Garland wants to crack down on parents getting in the way.

Steven Brizel | October 8, 2021 at 2:53 pm

Ms. Bessinger deserves much support and great kudos for detailing the Marxist anti American and anti Semitic nature of CRT.

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