An already disturbing plot thickens in a deeply blue, wealthy school district located outside of Chicago.
Last Friday, Naperville school district 203 Superintendent Dan Bridges quadrupled down in a recorded video on the Feb. 26 “Countywide Equity Institute” critical race theory training. The district also sent a reportedly mandatory Google survey on March 9, due on March 16, for faculty and staff to select a book by one of the speakers to “further their learning” after the training. One teacher says the district has been sending mandatory surveys out every week.
Bridges’s response to community concerns over leaked materials from the district’s training of teachers in critical race theory, which teaches that people of paler skin than others are born racists, was to demand that taxpayers stop complaining about what he is doing with their money.
“Let me be perfectly clear with our community today. We will not tolerate hateful comments and threats,” the superintendent alleged, equating disagreement with violence. “While everyone is entitled to their own opinions, threats to the safety of our staff and presenters will never be tolerated. This is unacceptable. Naperville 203 is supporting teachers and other staff and building their capacity to create inclusive learning environments, where all students are represented, have equitable access, can meaningfully participate in all aspects of teaching and learning.”
The district has disabled all comments for the superintendent’s video on YouTube, most certainly calling into question Bridges’s claim that “all students” and staff ought to be able to “participate in all aspects of teaching and learning.”
Teachers in the district, as well as parents, have contacted The Federalist because they fear retribution if they speak openly about their concerns about the district’s advocacy for racism.
“What he’s really trying to say to me is that he wants to flush us out and reprogram our brains,” said an elementary school teacher in the district who spoke to The Federalist on condition of anonymity. “He doesn’t want to understand diverse perspectives. He wants me to be on the woke-side and he wants me to understand why I’m white and why I’m privileged, and how that affects my classroom.”
A former teacher and parent whose children are enrolled in the district said it’s not “threatening” to let citizens share different opinions.
Initially, “I wasn’t aware of the training that happened,” the parent noted. “My kids did not have school, they were off Monday and Tuesday for conferences, and then again on that Friday, they had two days of school and only one was in person. And I don’t know, I was unaware of it until [The Federalist] reported on it so I just think it’s reporting from the other side.”
“We can’t just allow one side to make their comment and believe that it’s correct unless we challenge it,” said Jim Ruhl, chairman of the Naperville Township Republicans. “It’s just a political statement they’re making, with no real results or direction.”
“A lot of times the drive comes from the union more than anything,” Ruhl added, whose kids graduated from Naperville North High School.
Two weeks ago, local teachers union representative Dan Iverson sent a letter to faculty and staff arguing for “a more equitable district and a more equitable society.” See Iverson’s letter here.
It is incredibly saddening to me to see that the district I was in for K-12 is endorsing such intense partisan training. @DanBridges203https://t.co/tJMYWGr393
— Kev (@kevinthephares) March 11, 2021
To now maximize the discussion, bring in @TheOfficerTatum to create balance and then set it up for some critical thinking and debate. I think that’s how deeper ideas are formed?
— Adam Russo, LCSW (@Adam_Russo_LCSW) March 7, 2021
I don’t know, I kind of want my kids to learn basic math and reading comprehension first before I turn them into social activists- really wish we are discussing getting the kids back into school.
— Mark Nessim (@marknessim) March 8, 2021
This is just ill-timed…get the kids back in school- stick to the basics, because it’s sorely needed- math, reading comprehension. Dan u r having your “let them eat cake” moment. This shows the insensitivity and incomprehension of the realities of students right now
— Mark Nessim (@marknessim) March 11, 2021
Personal Attacks Instead of Defending Their Ideas
The Federalist has attempted to contact keynote speaker Dena Simmons, as well as other speakers, multiple times for a statement. None have responded. Bridges and Assistant Superintendent Jayne Willard have dodged emails and calls, even after district employees connected The Federalist reporter to their direct line.
Simmons even took to posting The Federalist’s comment request on Twitter, demonstrating her unwillingness to engage in civil discourse with those who think differently than herself.
Y’all this is the @PittTweet student intern who wrote a nasty article full of fake news about me, which resulted in hateful racist attacks & threats. How is this journalism? He sent this disrespectful email an hour ago & demands a response by the AM with this rude question. pic.twitter.com/7Ck5LM7MYp
— Dena Simmons (@DenaSimmons) March 9, 2021
“They say everything about ‘Let’s have open discourse’ and everything but, obviously, that’s not what they want,” the initial whistleblower, a district high school teacher said. “They don’t want open discourse unless they are being supported in their views. This shows by you trying to contact them and all their tweeting. Dena Simmons playing the victim role is crazy.”
The Racism Goes Much Further Than The Training
In alignment with new racist statewide “civics” mandates, Naperville 203 required district employees last week to fill out a Google Form. Teachers had to select one of six books written by the antiracist speakers to “further [their] equity learning.” It is due Tuesday.
“Any time there’s a disagreement over whether or to what degree to follow the new CRT-based standards, the pro-CRT side will have the upper hand now,” said Stanley Kurtz, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. “Who will dare to go against state policy knowing that superiors can use that policy as the rationale for a poor performance review and such? I’ve heard that some Illinois teachers are thinking of retiring early because of the new standards. I don’t blame them.”
Below is the form obtained by The Federalist, which has been marked up to conceal the selection of an educator at the person’s request.
“Coaching for Equity” by Elena Aguila argues that America is rooted in white supremacy. It also claims that white people cannot be discriminated against. “Racism, as we know it,” Aguilar writes, “wouldn’t exist without white supremacy. Racism is based on the ideology that ‘white people’ are superior. When I use the term white supremacy in this book, which I do a lot, I mean the mindset and belief system of white superiority that has become institutionalized in policy” (page 7).
“Structural racism is at the root of educational inequities. People created inequitable systems and, intentionally and unintentionally, we perpetuate unjust systems,” Aguilar writes on page 30. “Inequitable systems were constructed by ruling powers to subjugate large populations and keep people enslaved, disempowered, disenfranchised, and marginalized. Educational inequity is the result of intentional design.”
One elementary school teacher with children in the district read “Coaching for Equity” and was deeply disturbed, the teacher told The Federalist.
“The entire tone of the book was racist,” the teacher said. “To me, aren’t we treated with racism when I have to read stuff like this? I felt like I was being judged for my thoughts and beliefs because of the color of my skin. The [book] is categorizing me into that I’ve had this ‘privileged’ life. They are drawing a wedge between all of us.”
The teacher also noted that Naperville school district employees were required to go into Zoom breakout rooms to agree with being depicted as racists based solely on the color of their skin.
“They are forcing conversations on us,” the educator said. “I felt forced to speak in a way that fit their narrative and not the narrative of my heart.”
“Naperville School District officials are promoting the books of Woke Ed Inc., a multimillion-dollar industry peddling the propaganda of critical race theory ideologues to our K-12 students, through their teachers,” said Asra Q. Nomani, a former reporter for the Wall Street Journal and a parent advocate in northern Virginia. “Author Sara Ahmed hijacks young brains with the notion they are racist with ‘unconscious bias’ and ‘microaggressions’ against people they don’t even know. And recommended author Paul Gorski sells services through a consulting firm, Equity Literacy Institute, which monetizes ‘equity assessment’ and ‘equity planning leadership’ among his goodies for sale.”
Racism In Every Heart But Their Own
The other required readings are just as radical. In Sara K. Ahmed’s book, “Being the Change: Lessons and Strategies to Teach Social Comprehension,” she discusses unconscious bias and microaggressions. “We all have bias,” Ahmed writes. “Introducing it to students is a way of making the implicit explicit so they can start to think about their thinking as they consider topics that are social or political—race, guns, human rights, government funding, who they choose to be friends, what they choose to read” (page 45).
Christopher Emdin’s “For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood… and the Rest of Y’all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education,” says white teachers who use the terminology “these kids” or “those kids” in an urban district are representing an “unmistakable element of racism” (page 33).
The book by Paul Gorski is titled “Reaching and Teaching Students in Poverty: Strategies for Erasing the Opportunity Gap.” “Bias and inequity reside in every crevice of institutional culture and practice: policies, curricula, communication practices, decisionmaking processes,” Gorski writes (page 168).
On March 9, Fox News anchor Shannon Bream reported on the second Federalist Naperville training article, which educators claim caused an uproar among district leaders.
“Teachers in a suburb of Illinois doubling-down on antiracism training that suggests Trump voters are ‘racist’ and ‘white supremacists.’ The Federalist reporting on a Countywide Equity Institute training in which a PowerPoint slide reportedly said the slogan ‘Make America Great Again’ is ‘covert racism’ comparable to the N-word, hate crimes, lynching, and the KKK,” Bream said.
Brought to You By America’s Higher Education System
“The rise of critical race theory is the product of decades of leftist dominance at America’s colleges and universities. A generation has been educated in postmodernism, neo-Marxism, and their spin-offs in various schools of identity politics,” said Kurtz. “Many people believed these ideas would fade once graduates hit the ‘real world’ and began to pay taxes. That turned out to be wrong. The survival of our republic rests on how we educate the next generation. Decades of leftism in the schools have put our republic at risk.”
Teachers said an email Bridges sent on March 10 included a notice that said “distribution of this message” will be “considered a violation of the Acceptable Use Policy and subject to potential discipline.” They say this is the first time to their knowledge that such a notice has been provided on district communications. But what is Naperville 203 trying to hide?
Bridges said the following in regard to the “Countywide Equity Institute” at Naperville 203 school district in the email obtained by The Federalist:
I want to thank everyone for their participation in the Countywide Equity Institute. Discussions about systemic inequities and/or institutional racism help one understand how our current state (well-documented disparities and inequities) came to be. The next phase of this learniing is to increase discourse among staff and understand diverse perspectives and determine the next steps in our learning plan based on the needs of all stakeholders. Equity work can be uncomfortable and we expect that. It is how we respond to it that matters. Even when uncomfortable, it is through open dialogue that healing and change will begin. I am continually proud of our work in this are and all of our staff who are on this journey with us
If Bridges seeks to permit ideological diversity and fair treatment of all, why are comments turned off on his YouTube video? Why is he threatening with calls of “potential discipline” for any faculty and staff who might seek to hold him to account in the public square by potentially circulating taxpayer-funded emails?
“For [Bridges] to label me as a racist through the emails that he’s sending makes it even more worrisome that he’s the leader of our district,” said one of the Naperville elementary school teachers. “He’s not only misdirected in his guidance towards what the real issue is but now he’s putting it on our district, creating a division with comments that are not true about teachers in our district, saying that we are ‘targeting’ and we’re ‘threatening.’ Not true at all.”
“If you don’t fall into the sheep category of saying the right things, and you want to say something different, you’re automatically going to be labeled and emails will be written about you,” the teacher added.
Pay Me to Shame Your Kids Over Their Skin Color
Bridges is an employee at a large public school district and should be accountable to those who provide his extremely comfortable salary. According to public records, the superintendent is raking in $266,542 annually, the highest salary in the district. The budget for Naperville 203 was reported to be $293.6 million in 2020—with revenue from local property taxes, state funding, and federal funding amounting to $258,030,941.
All teachers who spoke to The Federalist continue to request anonymity, worried about the potential repercussions from the far-left, publicly funded institution, as well as the anti-free speech standards in the public school district.
“All the teachers in my department that I work with share my point of view, but are too afraid to speak out,” said the whistleblower.
“If Dan had the time and money to do this training, he should have used it to get our kids back in school,” the parent and former educator said, alluding to the district’s remote learning, which only recently changed. “They’re just trying to cover their own -sses. Our children should not feel bad because they have Trump flags on their house or they say ‘Make America Great Again.’ Now we’re being discriminated against.”
“We are the people that do not see color. We are the people that want to lift every child up. But you sir, want to make me see color,” said a dissenting elementary school teacher in the district, referring to Bridges.