At least two teachers in a Rhode Island public school were found to have pressured their students to speak out against a state bill that would ban the far-left Critical Race Theory from being taught in Rhode Island’s schools, as reported by the Daily Caller.
Both teachers work at Barrington High School, and sent emails to their students instructing them to participate in the public comment portion of debate against House Bill 6070. The bill, introduced by Republican State Representative Patricia Morgan (R-R.I.), would forbid public schools from teaching any “divisive concepts” that would lead to “any individual [feeling] discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any distress on account of their race or sex.”
The teachers in question are Jennifer Bergevine, an English teacher, and Alison Grieco, who teaches in the Social Studies Department. Grieco sent an email to all her students on March 30th, in which she said “I strongly urge you to testify on this bill tomorrow,” and provided the link to sign up for the public testimony.
“If you want to talk on this bill, you only have until 4 PM to sign up and talk,” the email urged, with the subject line similarly reading “Please read today before 4pm!!!” Grieco then added that “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.” Grieco’s email ends with her electronic signature listing her pronouns.
Bergevine sent an email to her students with similar demands, in which she claimed that “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.” She similarly included instructions for how to sign up at the bottom of her email. She encouraged her students to “share with me what you believe is the benefit of potentially ‘divisive concepts’ such as Race and Gender.”
The emails, as part of the public record, were obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request by the anti-Critical Race Theory group Parents Defending Education (PDE). PDE subsequently did a breakdown of the number of people who testified on the subject of House bill 6070. They found that, of the 120 people who testified on the bill, 117 were against it, while only three were in favor; all three who were opposed were students. One student who signed up to testify but ultimately did not speak even admitted that they had nothing to say, but signed up anyway because their teacher told them to do so.
Grieco responded to backlash by claiming that she did not encourage her students to take a particular stance, but to simply testify one way or the other. However, Grieco herself did provide testimony against the bill, as did Bergevine and other staff members at the school.