State Holds Hearings on Critical Race Theory, Was a Teacher's Extra Points for Testifying Teens Okay?

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Where Critical Race Theory’s concerned, students recently got the chance to stand up.

CRT isn’t likely going away any time soon. The ideology’s permeated much of the culture, in corporate training and education.

And it’s attained many adherents.

But at least 21 states have outlawed or limited its employment in schools.

And at the end of March, Rhode Island’s legislature held hearings to determine its move with regard to CRT.

As relayed by conservative grassroots organization Parents Defending Education (PDE), while reviewing measure H6070, the state House of Representatives’ Education Committee invited testimony from concerned citizens.

Evidently, Barrington High School’s Jennifer Bergevine and Alison Grieco — teachers of English and social studies, respectively — held the issue in high regard.

Hence, they came up with an idea: tell their students to testify.

Subsequently, the Education committee may have been surprised to discover 100+ folks had signed up.

As a result, comment was purportedly limited to one minute per person.

Among the fewer than 40 who answered their phones when the time came, one youngster allegedly dropped a bomb: He’d only entered his name because his teacher had told him to.

PDE reports that, after failing to get answers from the school district as to why so many Barrington teens had registered, they filed an April 1st Freedom Of Information Act request.

Results received June 10th indicated the teachers had issued emails encouraging student to testify.

According to documents posted by PDE, here’s how those messages went…

Did the instructors push kids toward favoring CRT? You be the judge.

From Jennifer, to her AP Language and Composition students:

I just heard about H6070, which is scheduled for hearing and consideration tomorrow in front of the RI House Committee on Education. I have included the full act below. Essentially, it prohibits the teaching of “divisive concepts” as well as prohibiting making “any individual feel discomfort, guilty, anguish or any distress on account of their race or sex.”

If this passes, I would no longer be able to teach the unit on Race or Gender. I have requested to testify in opposition and will be submitting written testimony. Direction on how to do this are at the bottom of the agenda for the meeting.

As I prepare my statement, I would like to be able to include student voices. Please feel free to share with me what you believe is the benefit of potentially “divisive concepts” such as Race and Gender.

From Alison to students:

I have just learned that H6070 is in committee in the RI House of Representatives. This bill essentially states that there should be no discussion of race or gender in classrooms. As News Channel 10 puts it, “Bill would prohibit teaching of concepts around racism and sexism in Rhode Island” …Here is a link to the news story about it.

If you want to talk on this bill, you only have until 4PM today to sign up to talk. Then you will be on the roster to talk after 4pm tomorrow. The discussion of the bill is for tomorrow’s session in committee.

I strongly urge you to testify on this bill tomorrow. Here is the agenda for the committee. Here is the link to sign up to testify.

Alison added a bonus:

As always, if you are a student in my class, you will receive 5 points on your next unit test if you decide to testify and provide me with your written testimony.

As stated by PDE, “It appears from the documents that the administration was completely unaware both that students had been asked to testify on a specific bill related to education, and that they were pressured to adopt a specific viewpoint about the bill.”

Furthermore, there’s no evidence that kids were asked to read the bill.

So what does the proposal actually say? About what “divisive concepts” is it concerned? Merely “race and gender”?

Here’s a portion:

For purposes of this section, divisive concepts shall mean and include the following 5 concepts:

  1. One race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex;
  2. The state of Rhode Island or the United States of America is fundamentally racist or sexist;
  3. An individual, by virtue of their race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously;
  4. An individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of their race or sex;
  5. Members of one race or sex cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect 14 to race or sex;
  6. An individual’s moral character is necessarily determined by their race or sex;
  7. An individual, by virtue of their race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex;
  8. Any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of their race or sex; or
  9. Meritocracy or traits such as hard work ethic are racist or sexist, or were created by a particular race to oppress another race;
  10. Divisive concepts includes any other form of race or sex stereotyping of any other form of race or sex scapegoating:

(i) “Race or sex stereotyping” means ascribing character traits, values, moral and ethical codes, privileges, status, or beliefs to a race or sex or to an individual because of their race or sex;

(ii) “Race or sex scapegoating” means assigning fault, blame, or bias to a race or sex, or to members of a race or sex because of their race or sex and similarly encompasses any claim that any 9 particular race or sex is responsible for society’s ills.

In a follow-up email to the school’s principal, Jennifer said she wasn’t trying to nudge students toward any particular view.

And in light of PDE’s article on the matter, school Superintendent Mike Messore defended Barrington against accusations of wrongdoing:

“Our government students are given an assignment every year. I looked at the assignment. Nowhere does it tell them what they have to do. Some students knew about the bill, and they wanted to testify. The teacher wasn’t looking to make a political statement.”

“We’re doing the best we can,” he told The Providence Journal, “to educate our students and give them the opportunity to think for themselves. That’s been the philosophy of our district. It’s about getting students to think on their own and supporting their own decisions.”

As for the thinking part, that sounds like a great goal.

Hopefully, America’s schools will set and achieve it.

-ALEX

 

See more pieces from me:

College President Claims ‘Critical Race Theory Is the New Communism,’ Means It as a Compliment

Bill Maher Puts Celebrity Apologies on a Stick — They’re ‘Why ‘People Hate Democrats’

Legal Journal Publishes Plea for Hate Speech Laws Protecting Animals

Find all my RedState work here.

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