Bessinger: “The Providence School District is calling me in Wednesday for my show-trial. ‘Pre-disciplinary hearing’. They do not like teachers that expose them.”
Ramona Bessinger is the Providence, Rhode Island, middle school teacher who blew the whistle on a new Critical Race curriculum that created racial tensions in school, including leading some children to call her “America” because she was white.
Bessinger disclosed the details in a post in July 2021 at Legal Insurrection I’m A Middle School Teacher And See How Critical Race Curriculum Is Creating Racial Hostility 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.
Bessinger described how damaging this new program was to the school environment:
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.
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.
The exposure of what was happening in the already-troubled Providence school system gained local, national, and international attention, including in The Wall Street Journal, FoxNews.com, Fox News television, ABC TV (Tamron Hall Show), and even Australian television,.
But the attention also put a bullseye on Bessinger’s back, leading to harassment and a hostile work environment, as she detailed at Legal Insurrection on October 3, 2021, I’m A Middle School Teacher Facing Retaliation After Blowing The Whistle On Critical Race Curriculum:
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…..
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 Providence School District now has notified Bessinger that she is being brought before a pre-disciplinary panel convened on the pretext that she allegedly violated a school safety rule (seriously, that’s what they are going with). Bessinger posted a partial image of the hearing notice on Twitter:
The Providence School District is calling me in Wednesday for my show-trial. “Pre-disciplinary hearing”. They do not like teachers that expose them.
The Providence School District is calling me in Wednesday for my show-trial. “Pre-disciplinary hearing”. They do not like teachers that expose them. @Renny920 @AInfanteGreen @Nicoletta0602 @re_schools @CBHeresy pic.twitter.com/X88MXB2DPE
— Ramona Bessinger (@RamonaBessinger) October 11, 2021
The Notice is dated October 5, 2021, two days after Bessinger went public about the retaliation and filed in internal complaint.
The specific charge is that Bessinger allowed students to leave her classroom during a lockdown at the school (the lockdown apparently related to a fight between a student and staff member not related to Bessinger).
“…. on September 29, 2021, you allegedly did not follow the proper protocols and procedures during a lockdown jeopardizing the health and safety of the students. Consequently, these allegations create a legitimate concern that you may not and/or will not be able to perform your duties within the scope of your accountable employment with PPSD.”
This charge is denied by Bessinger, and seems pretextual considering that recent changes in the school allowed students to leave classrooms without a hall pass, contrary to prior policy. This had the result of chaos in the hallways and a further detioriation of school discipline. The Providence school system, which was so bad that state had to take it over, has further detiorated under state control, where the racialized and radicalized new curriculum was imposed.
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