A group of Rhode Island teachers in favor of implementing critical race theory in their schools offered extra credit to their students who agreed to testify on an anti-critical race theory state bill.
Documents obtained by Parents Defending Education show that at least two educators across different departments at Barrington High School in Barrington, Rhode Island offered five extra points to students to be used on their next exams if they chose to verbally testify or offer a written comment on the legislation. Emails also show the educators praised students who chose to submit testimony.
The bill prohibits teaching certain divisive concepts that have infiltrated government schools at the taxpayers’ expense, as well as some private schools. Those concepts, which make up the bedrock of the racist so-called critical race theory, include “an individual, by virtue of their race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously,” “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,” and “meritocracy or traits such as hard work ethic are racist or sexist, or were created by a particular race to oppress another race.”
The social studies teacher who created the original email “strongly urged” her students to partake in the hearing while offering her own left-leaning commentary on the legislation, which she said would prevent her from teaching “the unit on Race or Gender.”
The teacher, Alison Grieco, claimed she believes “every opinion is valuable in my classroom as long as it is respectful” and that “good civics discourse only happens when multiple sides of an issue is discussed” — but she made those comments only after clearly opposing the legislation. “This bill essentially states that there should be no discussion of race or gender in classrooms,” she lamented.
Although Grieco also claims she always encourages her students to involve themselves in the political process, saying she “[doesn’t] care if they testify for, against or no position (you must select one of those three options when testifying and I have gone over all three with students),” she also wrote in an email that she encourages students to testify on legislation “that would relate to them.” The examples she listed are all on Democrats’ wish lists: “lowering voting age, funding for mandatory civics education, and this bill.”
Shortly after Grieco’s promise for extra credit, another teacher asked her students to consider testifying on the bill, which she said “prohibits the teaching of ‘divisive concepts'” and also prohibits “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. Directions on how to do this are at the bottom of the agenda for the meeting,” Jennifer Bergevine, a Barrington English teacher who lists her pronouns in her email signature, wrote in an email. “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.”
School Superintendent Mike Messore told a local news outlet that students were not forced to testify against the bill and that “the teacher wasn’t looking to make a political statement.” As the obtained emails and Parents Defending Education’s report suggest, however, “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.”
“Every Barrington High School student who testified did so against the bill,” said Parents Defending Education.
“The documents released by the Barrington Public Schools reveals that Barrington High School teachers used classroom assignments – including earning extra credit points – to organize students in a coordinated campaign to influence legislation in Rhode Island,” Asra Nomani, vice president of strategy and investigations at PDE, said. “Their assignments were a thinly-veiled attack on the legislation. That was obvious in the email by a teacher who explicitly sought out students voices to support her testimony against the bill. This campaign by the Barrington High School teachers underscores a disturbing national trend in which school teachers, officials and administrators are exploiting their power to indoctrinate – not educate – students.”