As reported by The Federalist last week, Naperville 203 community school district staff and faculty attended a “Countywide Equity Institute” training on Feb. 26. A whistleblower sent quotes from keystone speaker Dena Simmons and the nine other “anti-racist” coaches to The Federalist, as well as evidence such as PowerPoints from the training insisting America is institutionally racist. Other teachers also provided statements.
One PowerPoint slide in the Valbrum Consulting Group presentation said the term “Make America Great Again” is “covert” racism comparable to “The N-Word,” “Hate Crimes,” “Lynching,” and the “KKK.” According to the below slide, if you are part of the half of the country that voted for former President Donald Trump, you are a racist and a white supremacist.
For a school that prides itself on “Diversity & Inclusion,” this is troubling, to say the least. According to a graph shown at the training, celebrating Columbus Day, thinking racism can be directed against white people, and “colorblindness” are also forms of “white supremacy.”
American taxpayer dollars are being used to indoctrinate America’s educators, and in turn, students, with dangerous lies like these. Nonetheless, many teachers employed at Naperville 203 school district publicly doubled down on this insanity when exposed by The Federalist.
“Last week, I did a keynote in a conservative district & caused my usual #goodtrouble. My inboxes are full of hate mail & threats. I’m unsettled, esp. after June’s racist attack at Yale. I had a whole article with fake facts attacking me. This work isn’t easy, but I’ll keep on,” tweeted Simmons. Simmons was contacted by The Federalist to find out what facts were false, but she refused to reply, instead posting the email on Twitter so followers could attack this author, including through his university.
Last week, I did a keynote in a conservative district & caused my usual #goodtrouble. My inboxes are full of hate mail & threats. I’m unsettled, esp. after June’s racist attack at Yale. I had a whole article with fake facts attacking me. This work isn’t easy, but I’ll keep on.
— Dena Simmons (@DenaSimmons) March 7, 2021
“Thanks to the many educators of @Naperville203 for drowning out the hate with love & support. I worry about your neighbors whose white fragility quickly turns to white rage & what that means for young people. I have to believe you’ll fight the fight towards #collectivejustice,” Simmons also wrote.
Thanks to the many educators of @Naperville203 for drowning out the hate with love & support. I worry about your neighbors whose white fragility quickly turns to white rage & what that means for young people. I have to believe you’ll fight the fight towards #collectivejustice.
— Dena Simmons (@DenaSimmons) March 8, 2021
A petition titled “Educators who support Dena Simmons & District 203’s Equity work,” started after the article by Phoebe Conner, a learning behavior specialist at Naperville North Hgh School, has 243 signatures as of writing.
“I, Phoebe Conner, strongly stand with Dena Simmons and the other institute day presenters, which included student panels made up of individuals with disabilities, Black students, Asian-American students, LGBTQ+ students, Muslim students, and Hispanic/Latinx students. I fervently denounce The Federalist article, I vociferously denounce discrimination and prejudice everywhere,” Connor writes. “I promise to continue to do the anti-racist and other reflective work needed to be the best educator I can be for all of my students. And to be the best person I can be for all beings. I am thankful to District 203 for providing the professional development our staff needs in order to effectively serve our community and I ask the district to continue to provide such resources and trainings.”
On Twitter, leftist educators in the district have also doubled down in their support for the ideas of institutional racism, government-mandated equality of outcome (“equity”), white guilt, white privilege, and other critical race theory concepts. Here are some of the more notable posts, although a search of the phrase “Naperville 203” brings up many more.
TY @Naperville203! The Equity Institute scholars inspired me to reflect on my experiences within systems, examine how schools historically underserve BIPoC, visualize a future where schools serve all students, & act within my sphere for educational equity! @DenaSimmons #203Unites
— Stephanie Aspan, Ed.D. (@StephanieAspan) March 7, 2021
My instruction improves daily—even during a pandemic—because of opportunities provided by @Naperville203 Reflective and responsive pedagogy serves ALL STUDENTS and is not threatened by questioning of the status quo. Thank you @DenaSimmons. #203unites
— Heidi Rees (@MoxRees) March 5, 2021
As a Latina educator in #dist203, I am proud of the deep equity work we are doing. It is hard work, but necessary work. I too felt educated an energized to do better and be better.
— Damary Cortes (@DamaryCortes1) March 7, 2021
Anyone questioning the necessity and validity of @Naperville203 Equity Institute and @DenaSimmons, I challenge you to have a conversation with any one of my children. 5 minutes with the Trannon of your choice, then tell me we don't all need to explore our biases. I dare you.
— Jennifer Trannon (@MrsTrannon) March 8, 2021
The conservative district wasn’t in a red state. This was @Naperville203 in the Chicago suburbs. Antiracist work is so needed in all schools in every locality. Glad people like @DenaSimmons are doing this work and sending her some love ❤️❤️❤️ https://t.co/tiP3DNfwyk
— Jin-Soo Huh (@JinSooDHuh) March 7, 2021
To any of my white colleagues if you need help processing the equity & anti racist information the amazing @DenaSimmons shared last week. I volunteer to help you unpack your privilege and biases. We need to do this work and if you’re uncomfortable with that I’m happy to help you!
— Colleen Olenek (@MrsOlenek) March 8, 2021
Thanks @DenaSimmons for engaging @Naperville203 in thoughtful conversation… uncomfortable for some… necessary for all. #203unites https://t.co/wWPK9oHuJZ
— Dan Bridges (@DanBridges203) March 7, 2021
2/This “whistleblower” has reinforced the need to ensure EVERY SINGLE STUDENT in @Naperville203 is served by an anti-racist educator committed to dismantling the racist systems our students of color encounter.
— Lisa Xagas (@l_xagas) March 9, 2021
While leftist teachers feel comfortable openly stating their support for racist policies on social media, teachers who believe in equal treatment of all regardless of skin color are relegated to reaching out in private for fear of retribution.
“Vladimir Lenin stated, ‘Give me just one generation of youth, and I’ll transform the whole world.’ It is no wonder that critical race theorists and others of their ilk are trying to brainwash educators with their propaganda,” the whistleblower told The Federalist. “As an educator, it disturbs me that our district would fall into this trap and perpetuate these falsehoods.”
The Federalist tried messaging several teachers to learn what specific facts in the initial article were false, as alleged, but none were interested in having a conversation. Several educators blocked me instead.
This seems quite contradictory given that teachers particularly harped on the importance of having discussions that make you “uncomfortable,” as articulated by an elementary reading specialist named Colleen Olenek and Superintendent Dan Bridges in the Twitter posts above. If that is truly the case—that conversation is important to move forward a debate about the future of this country—why will the teachers and Simmons not engage in discussions that challenge their orthodoxy?
Simple. They don’t want discussion. They want power and groupthink.
“It’s the liberal ideology not accepting the fact that there might be two points of view about this topic. Which in turn oppresses our voices more as they play the racist card super-fast without actually listening to our voices,” said a teacher in the district who wishes to remain anonymous. “A closed mindset is what they are teaching. Quick to label and judge is what they are teaching.”
“All of us do not see color. We teach the child, not the color of the child, and that is the difference. The liberals and the keynote speaker want us to see the color of the child, not the child,” the teacher added.
On Monday, the high school newspaper for Naperville Central released an article titled “Federalist critique of D203 equity training a dangerous distraction.” The editorial, likewise, reaffirms racist critical race theory sentiments and states that “because an individual’s identity is composed of their race, religion, heritage, gender, sexual orientation, experiences, etc., things they have no control over, it is important to not disregard these facets of their identity. This is exactly what antiracist training teaches.”
Even the student newspaper is agreeing with the racially divisive messages taught in their school district: that one’s biology dictates how one views the world, and thus, an intersectionality hierarchy is the most reasonable way to eliminate differences in outcomes. The district brought in speakers, using public resources, who claim it is reasonable to discriminate against all white people, the “hegemony,” because of their “implicit biases.”
On Sunday, the union representative Dan Iverson for the district sent a letter to faculty and staff, saying that that it is vital America fosters “a more equitable district and a more equitable society.”
“I appreciate your article as I too work at District 203. Sadly it is falling on deaf ears and they are ramping up pressure on us even more as conservatives. We just got this letter from our union rep (Dan Iverson). The thing he doesn’t get is if we speak out we will get punished,”
Despite its claims, this Illinois district is clearly uninterested in having open discussions about race and politics. While district leaders and paid speakers ramble about the righteousness of “anti-racism” training, they fundamentally neglect that this ideology inherently discriminates against one race or another. By insisting that all people who disagree are irredeemable bigots, the radical left is promoting racism.
“I find it interesting that people who are so proud of their liberal beliefs and the Democratic Party don’t understand that historically the Democratic Party is the party that supported slavery, Jim Crow laws, and the economic enslavement of blacks,” the whistleblower said, “Yet they want the conservatives and the Republican Party shunned: the party was founded on anti-slavery. These people are so proud of their ‘woke-ness,’ yet they don’t take the time to educate themselves. Maybe they should read Booker T. Washington’s autobiography. It is extremely enlightening and shows the fallacy of the whole systemic racism idea. It preaches education, hard work, and family…not excuses.”
The district’s leadership—Assistant Superintendent Jayne Willard and Superintendent Dan Bridges—also did not return requests for comment.
Simmons, the keynote speaker for the Naperville school district training, did not respond to a request for comment on Monday either. The specific question posed to Simmons was: “If in fact your determination is that free and open discourse is important, which seems to be echoed by teachers and yourself on Twitter, why do you not support hearing the other side that does not believe America is inherently rotten to the core?”
Instead of responding, Simmons posted the request to her Twitter account.
Of course, Simmons does not “owe” a reply. But it is only appropriate and fair to reach out to an individual being reported on to see if she wishes to respond and help correct any inaccuracies. That is how journalism works. You give people the opportunity to speak. But it appears that instead of engaging in an honest conversation or providing her interpretation of her keystone speech at Naperville, Simmons would rather instruct colleagues to be her bodyguards on social media.
This upcoming Sunday, disgruntled parents from Naperville District 203 will join eight other district parents in Naperville, Ill. to demand that classes return to in-person learning. Paul Vallas, former Chicago Public Schools CEO, state Sen. Darren Bailey, R-Louisville, and radio talk show host for WIND (560 AM) Amy Jacobson will speak. “The school districts are pretty much aligned with not having a plan to bring back kids five days a week,” said a Naperville District 203 parent who is one of the rally organizers.
According to sources who spoke to The Federalist, another district virtual meeting on “diversity” is set for April 6.