At least two teachers in Rhode Island who support the teachings of critical race theory did not receive the outcome they expected after they offered bonus points to students who chose to offer testimonies on an anti-critical race theory state House bill.
According to documents gathered by Parents Defending Education (PDE), two teachers in Barrington, Rhode Island, offered five extra points to each student for their next exam if they testify by word of mouth or offer a written statement on the legislation.
The legislation aims to prevent the teaching of critical race theory, which includes concepts that “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.”
One social studies teacher, Alison Grieco, claimed that she would be unable to accurately teach “the unit on Race or Gender” should the legislation pass and “strongly urged” her students to take part.
Greico also stated that “every opinion is valuable in my classroom as long as it is respectful,” saying “good civics discourse only happens when multiple sides of an issue is discussed.” Previously, Greico claimed “this bill essentially states that there should be no discussion of race or gender in classrooms.”
Another educator, Jennifer Bergevine, a Barrington English teacher, suggested that her students take part in providing feedback also, claiming the legislation “prohibits the teaching of ‘divisive concepts’” and prevents “making ‘any individual feel discomfort, guilty, anguish or any distress on account of their race or sex.’”
Bergevine stated in an email, along with her pronouns:
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.
“As I prepare my statement, I would like to be able to include student voices,” Bergevine added. “Please feel free to share with me what you believe is the benefit of potentially ‘divisive concepts’ such as Race and Gender.”
According to Parents Defending Education, “Every Barrington High School student who testified did so against the bill.”
Asra Nomani, vice president of strategy and investigations at PDE, released the following statement on the matter:
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. 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.
Following the news that bonus points were being offered for testimony on the legislation, School Superintendent Mike Messore told a local newspaper that students were not forced to testify any certain way and claimed, “the teacher wasn’t looking to make a political statement.”
According to PDE’s report, “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.”