After Rhode Island lawmakers pushed a bill to prohibit schools from teaching critical race theory, Parents Defending Education President Nicole Neily on Monday blasted a teacher for offering students extra credit for testifying against the legislation, a move she called a “coordinated campaign to oppose” the legislation.
“She said she was looking for student voices to add to her testimony, to make it stronger. This very obviously overlooks the power dynamic between a student and a teacher. Students want good grades, they know what is expected of them, and so yeah, wink wink, we’ll give you what you want, Ms. Teacher, and it’s disappointing because this is obviously a coordinated campaign to oppose this bill,” said Neily.
The Daily Wire reported that two Rhode Island teachers encouraged their students to testify against a bill that would ban critical race theory from the classroom. One of the teachers offered students extra credit in exchange for their testimony.
The Rhode Island House of Representatives’ Education Committee held a hearing on a bill related to critical race theory in March. Parents Defending Education [PDE] said they were notified that over 100 students from Barrington High School signed up to testify and then, however, less than 40 answered their phones when called to express their opinions.
“One student answered the phone and admitted he did not have anything to say but had signed up because his teacher asked him to do so,” according to the report.
After PDE filed a Freedom of Information request with Barrington High School, Jennifer Bergevine and Alison Greico were identified as the two teachers encouraging students to testify on the bill.
Greico wrote, “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 … If you want to talk on this bill, you have only until 4PM today to sign up to talk. I strongly urge you to testify on this bill tomorrow … 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.”
Neily went on to say, “Certainly people should know what’s happening in their classrooms because bear in mind this is being done to our children with our tax dollars in our name.
“Everybody has the right to know what their child is learning and if you don’t like how your child is being taught about issues, such as race, such as gender, such as politics you should be able to go and talk to your school about it but schools are discouraging that and shaming families.”
Sponsored by Republican Rep. Patricia Morgan of West Warwick, the bill would “prohibit schools from teaching that Rhode Island or the United States is fundamentally racist or sexist and that an individual, ‘by virtue of their race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past” on account of their race or gender.’”
According to the Providence Journal, “three students who said they attended Barrington High School spoke out against the bill.”
Host Steve Doocy said the school did not respond to a request for comment.
One of the students, Elijah Short, a junior, argued that the school’s curriculum “cannot be considered White shaming.” The student also said that the bill “limits what can be taught” on the subject of racism.
The curriculum has sparked a national conversation about the role of race and racism in school districts across the country. Often compared by critics to actual racism, CRT is a school of thought that generally focuses on how power structures and institutions impact racial minorities.