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WSJ Editorial: Providence (RI) Schools Seeking “Pretext” To Fire Teacher Ramona Bessinger For Opposing Critical Race Curriculum

WSJ Editorial: Providence (RI) Schools Seeking “Pretext” To Fire Teacher Ramona Bessinger For Opposing Critical Race Curriculum

“Education Horror Show, Continued – A teacher is targeted after she described the baleful effect of critical race theory.”

Providence (RI) middle school teacher Ramona Bessinger has yet to hear the result of the “pre-discipline hearing” launched against her by the School District. One day you will listen to the hearing audio. The hearing was a badgering attack by an experienced senior “Human Resources”  officer who attempted, without success, to get Bessinger to admit she let children out of her classroom during an “instructional lockdown” (it was not a more serious “shelter in place” lockdown).

Bessinger, while it wasn’t her day to present her side of the case because this was an inquisition, made the point that to the extent any children left the classroom, it was likely because of malpractice by school administrators. The school recently changed policy to allow children to leave classes without a hall pass, creating doubt among children that a teacher could compel them to remain in the classroom. During the lockdown, various bells also sounded, creating more confusion among students.

But all of this is a charade by the school district, which is looking for a pretext to punish Bessinger because Bessinger blew the whistle in a July 2021 post at Legal Insurrection on racialized Critical Race Theory curriculum that was stoking racial tensions against her from students and staff because she is white, I’m A Middle School Teacher And See How Critical Race Curriculum Is Creating Racial Hostility In School.

Bessinger recently detailed the retaliation against her, I’m A Middle School Teacher Facing Retaliation After Blowing The Whistle On Critical Race Curriculum.

And we documented additional harassment, Harassment Of Providence Anti-Critical Race Whistleblower Teacher Ramona Bessinger Intensifies.

The harassment and retaliation was so bad that on October 3 Bessinger filed a formal internal complaint. Two days later, on October 5, the school district served notice of the charges and hearing.

The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board has taken note of Bessinger’s plight in a stunning Editorial, Education Horror Show, Continued – A teacher is targeted after she described the baleful effect of critical race theory.

The Editorial started by quoting extensively from Bessinger’s original post at Legal Insurrection:

Bad teachers are rarely held accountable, but the public school bureaucracy seems to be less tolerant of teachers who transgress against the Democratic-union establishment. Behold how one middle-school English teacher in Providence, Rhode Island, is being run out after publicly criticizing critical race theory.

The Providence Public School District hauled in Ramona Bessinger on Wednesday for a “pre-disciplinary administrative” hearing because she allegedly let students leave her classroom during a school lockdown related to a fight between a student and staff member. Ms. Bessinger, who has taught for 22 years, denies the charge.

Her real offense is chronicling the alarming effects of critical race theory on students and teachers. “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,” she wrote this summer on the blog Legal Insurrection.

“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,” she wrote. “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.”

“Midway through the academic year, some students started calling me ‘America’ because I was white,” she added. “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.”

Then the Board of Editors honed in on the point, which is that the lockdown is a pretext:

The harassment by fellow teachers and administrative officials increased this year after some media outlets highlighted her story. Last month a union representative at a faculty meeting said teachers were circulating a petition against her. On Oct. 3 she filed an internal complaint about retaliation and a hostile working environment.

The district subsequently issued her a notice alleging that she violated protocols during a school lockdown and calling for a hearing. “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,” the letter says. “Please note appropriate disciplinary action” including termination may result.

The district would be unlikely to win a disciplinary case against Ms. Bessinger for opining online about critical race theory because the Supreme Court in Pickering v. Board of Education (1968) held that the First Amendment protects teachers from retaliation for speaking on matters of public concern. Hence, the district needed a pretext to target her.

The Editorial also referenced a report in 2019 on the truly pathetic state of Providence schools:

Readers may recall a 2019 report by the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy (see our editorial “An Education Horror Show,” July 2019) documenting teacher misconduct, chaotic classrooms, student violence and academic failure in Providence public schools. Teachers were rarely disciplined even if they abused students, skipped classes, dozed off or lied about grades.

Although the state subsequently took over the district, collective-bargaining agreements and teacher tenure protections have impeded reform. Maybe the bigger problem is the progressive education establishment cares more about enforcing its ideology than improving instruction.

Providence schools are failing badly. Rather than educate children, Providence has embarked on racial agitation.

Bessinger blew the whistle on it. Now the district is trying to get even with her, to punish her, to make her an example to others to keep their mouths shut.

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“The district subsequently issued her a notice alleging that she violated protocols during a school lockdown and calling for a hearing. “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,” the letter says. “Please note appropriate disciplinary action” including termination may result.”

Sorry for the non-matching quotation marks.

The District referred to the Teacher’s “accountable employment.” I know the separate meaning of these two words, but how do they relate together? What is “accountable employment”? Why can’t we insist on plain English?

RI……….blue states doe blue state things unfortunately BUT if you don’t pay attention to local politics such as the mayoral race, schoolboard, and police commissioner you risk blue state things coming to your red or purple state.

Words matter. One simple change we could implement, replace the term “public schools” with “government schools”. It’s accurate and more reflective of how they operate.

    henrybowman in reply to jimincalif. | October 16, 2021 at 5:44 am

    Well, I always use the phrase “government schools” (I didn’t need any authorization to implement that change). Not only does it make my point to people in the US, but it eliminates ambiguity for the benefit of other English speakers. Did you know that the phrase “public school” in England means precisely what “private school” means here? Their free schools are called “state schools” or “comprehensives.”

All of these language excuses, etc, are designed to cover up illegals, crime and student failure by the teachers. It is just so much easier being a left wing political puppet than doing the job of teaching children..that are often dangerous wild animals. But it must be done.

She shouldn’t ever talk with anyone in an HR department. HR departments are not an employee’s friend. Their job is represent the schools/company’s interests, so when a company believes an employee is doing something counter to their interest, their job is collect incriminating evidence against them, and then dispose of the employee. Companies don’t fight fair. Neither do school districts.

Her best strategy would be collecting evidence against them, during her employment and then inflicting ten times the damage they do to her, by using that evidence against them. She can file complaints with the EEOC for race and age discrimination, file OSHA violation complaints, and tie up their legal department with legal challenges. It’s extremely expensive and time consuming for corporations to counter legal actions. They often have to fund it, raise the issue up the chain of command, spend huge amounts of time doing interrogatories and interviews with coworkers (which slows their work), and contract out the legal work. She can actually do about ten times the damage to them, that they can do to her..

    henrybowman in reply to ruralguy. | October 16, 2021 at 5:46 am

    Except that she has to do it with her own money, whereas they get to do it with everybody’s money, including hers and yours.

I hope an excellent pro bono attorney is helping her out!!!
She deserves a lot of credit and thanks for speaking the truth.
God bless and protect her!

The r populist or MAGA movement desperately needs to develop a lawfare operation. There are a few organs out there but they are few and usually outgunned by the left.
This is an area where smaller donations can be leveraged to secure important victories and the occasional CT ruling setting a precedent to deter or prevent future abuses.

The very system of administrative procedures, consent decrees and legal framework of precedent that the left has successfully built and used to infiltrate and takeover our institutions can be used by our side to reverse the process.

The pearl clutching r need to be willing to get their hand dirty though. They can’t continue to decry the use of these already deployed and well worn tactics as beyond the pale. We must accept the situation as it is, not as we wish it to be, and be willing to use all the tools at our disposal. Including weaponized admin process and the legal system to it’s fullest.

Our opponents certainly do so. The morality of their use is moot, they ate already in use. Refusing to match their level of aggression and rejecting useful weapons is a foolish unilateral disarmament that our opponents will gleefully exploit.

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