Victory – I’m A Teacher Who Blew The Whistle On CRT In Schools, Suffered Retaliation, But Now I’ve Prevailed
After spending 9 months in a windowless basement after involuntary transfer to a school that didn’t want me, the Providence School District has given up fighting my legal grievance. Starting September I will have a permanent classroom assignment. Now, I can continue to teach children the truth about this great nation.
On July 13, 2021, I blew the whistle at Legal Insurrection on how a new Critical Race curriculum in the Providence, Rhode Island, middle school where I taught was creating racial hostility, turning students and staff against me because I was white, and turning students against their country.My students, almost all of whom were minority, started calling me “America” because I was white — You are America, they would say, we are not. How could I keep silent seeing what the Critical Race curriculum was doing to the students and our society?
What followed was a year of retaliation, harassment, intimidation, and involuntary transfer to another school where there was no teaching position for me. I was forced to spend a year alone in a windowless empty school basement resource room, as students and staff passed by and gawked at me like I was some strange caged zoo animal, audibly mumbling how I was that ‘racist’ teacher they had been warned about.
I fought the district legally with the help of James Peterson at Judicial Watch, and I am emerging from the basement victorious, with a full-time regular classroom assignment. I am unbowed, and more committed to fighting the CRT scourge than ever before.
Here is my story of my basement year, what I learned with all my free time, and how I fought and won.
On October 18, 2021, I was involuntarily transferred from my permanent position as a teacher at Esek Hopkins School in Providence Rhode Island, to Classical High School. This transparently punitive action seemed retaliatory for me sounding the alarm on critical race theory in my school.
There was no job slot for me at Classical High. The district sent me someplace that didn’t want me or ask for me. With no classroom assignment, and without any formal or disciplinary reason, I was exiled to the Classical High basement for 9 months.
When I arrived at Classical, I was told my teaching assignment and classroom would be available to me sometime in December. While I waited for the classroom to open up, I was told to report to the basement resource room with no windows, and no job duties, no schedule, curriculum materials or class rosters.
For seven hours a day with a short break for lunch, I sat there while colleagues entered the room, said nothing to me, not a glance or professional courtesy. I was told the faculty at Classical High were warned about speaking to me. Still, many teachers reached out ignoring being told “not to speak to Ms. Bessinger”
Without any explanation or justification, I was left down there to be viewed and on display. It was clear after a short time that students and faculty had been coached to believe I was some sort of villain. While some colleagues stared at me as they used the room, others secretly reached out and showed support. These teachers gave me hope and also shared what was happening district wide as I was blocked from Providence Teachers Union social media sites.
Most heartbreaking for me was when I was approached by two students who were told complete lies about character, specifically, that I was a racist and homophobe. Apparantly, they were told by faculty members that I was a homophobic white supremacist.
Both extremely bright students wanted interviews to seemingly understand who I was and why I was down there. More and more I felt like I was on display, reduced and singled out.
The teacher in me wanted to talk to the kids but I understood that was not possible. Sadly, the students had already been poisoned by rumors and conjecture about my transfer.
As time passed, I was blocked from online library and curriculum resources, I was further marginalized by some faculty members who were told “not to speak to me.”
By February 2022, life in the basement felt downright abusive as it became clearer by the day, the administration had no intention of putting me back in the classroom.
I filed grievance after grievance not willing to let the school department win. Blowing the whistle on this racialized, anti-American and most harmful curriculum was and still is an important story to tell. Over the past two years, 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.
For many reasons, the state, in particular Providence, needed educational reform. But the reforms being implemented are cause for great concern. The Providence School District management have essentially replaced the study of American history with a mutated version that is nothing more than woke, racist propaganda intended to inject the politics of “white supremacy” and to apply the canard of systemic racism to the past, airbrushing white historical figures from factual American history and changing their race to Black or Asian.
The result is nothing more than educational theft. Our students’ education is being stolen from them. And I feel it is crucial to let people know all about it.
In 23 years, I have never taught anything other than literature framed in historical fact, and I’ve always carefully aligned my young-adult literature with a deliberate focus on universal themes, characters and plot. But now that approach to teaching is deemed racist and must be replaced with political and gender ideologies.
For me, this new curriculum platform seemed designed to tear us apart and incite hatred and division.
I brought my concerns to school administrators, colleagues, and to the RI Senate Oversight Committee on Education, as a result, I was harassed and bullied while at school. Rather than back down, I contacted Legal Insurrection in the hopes the story of what was happening in our schools could be shared with the world.
Thanks to the publicity after I told my story at Legal Insurrection, I received an outpouring of support thanks, in substantial part to major media personalities allowing me to tell my story to their millions of viewers.
With the help and guidance of Judicial Watch’s Senior Attorney James Peterson, I was able to fight back against two years of retaliation. We won the battle to restore my professional standing and position in the classroom where I belong. The District gave up just days before we were to go to a grievance hearing.
I have received notification that coming this fall, I will have a permanent classroom assignment at Classical High. I have been freed from the basement. I’ll be back in the classroom this September sharing literature about the Holocaust, American authors with universal messages to share, historical references and literature that reflects the greatness of America in all her flaws and perfection. I’ll teach universal themes that all children can relate to, my classroom will have characters and poetry free of harmful political activism and full of accuracy. I hope to instill critical thinking, freedom of thought, rigorous activities that promote lively discussion unprompted by curriculum materials filled with propaganda.
It would have been so easy to throw in the towel and step out into the fresh air and sunlight, and leave all that nonsense behind for good. But I persevered with a great deal more that lies ahead.
Now, I can continue to teach children the truth about this great nation and perhaps contribute to the restoration of a politically neutral zone for all children K-12.
[Featured Image: Me in the hallway outside the basement room I sat in for 9 months, complying with the school mask mandate.]DONATE
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