School board uproar after teacher says he wants to make students ‘revolutionaries’




By AV Benford | OBSERVER Editor

Parent Richard Gilbert speaks at Natomas school board meeting after undercover video was released showing Natomas high school teacher supporting antifa and saying he wanted to turn his students into “revolutionaries “. – Video of the Natomas school board meeting

A Natomas school board meeting erupted in great emotion and was abruptly interrupted by Superintendent Chris Evans last week. It came after what he said were numerous online threats directed at staff, board and their families, and even more threats in the lobby outside of the meeting.

Why the tumult of the community? An undercover video of a Natomas Advanced Placement Government high school teacher speaking at a restaurant in Sacramento in support of antifa and saying he wanted to turn his students into “revolutionaries.”

Project Veritas, the controversial activist organization that produced the video, says it was in response to the district’s inaction after complaints from parents and students about the teacher (whose name we are not disclosing in because of threats against their family). The Natomas Unified School District, after an initial investigation, said it had found no evidence of complaints about the teacher.

Superintendent Evans has no idea why the teacher made the remarks and spoke in such a “casual and unprofessional” manner in the video. He thinks the teacher thought they were responding to a relative, who told them they had just moved from Florida to Sacramento, and not an undercover activist.

Throughout the highly edited recording, the teacher lays out his teaching philosophy, describing how they ask students to publicly publish their ideological affiliations on a left-to-right spectrum, and their sense of pride as these publications collide. move further and further to the left of the school. year.

Evans called it “biased teaching designed to lead students to a specific ideology.” It is very clear that the classroom is a place of “trust” and that the teacher’s methodology “crosses the line” as he insists that students convert to his political convictions.

“We should have caught it earlier,” said Evans.

Terminate a teacher

As early as 2019, images from the teacher’s class in Inderkum High School’s Tiger Talk student newspaper show Communist propaganda on the walls, according to Evans.

The classroom was visited over 25 times for assessments, but Evans maintains that “there was no one on site who knew the classroom was as lopsided and biased as it was.”

In a September 1 statement, the Natomas school board detailed some of the policies violated, including advocating for voting measures and political campaigns on school grounds.

Less than two days after the video went viral, the teacher was put on leave. After an additional two-day investigation, the district took legal action to fire them. The teacher did not respond to interview requests.

The Natomas school board is requesting the publication of the full unedited video so that they can assess the context in which the teacher’s statements about “others”. According to Evans, the teacher said they were referring to “others” who share similar teaching methods, but from a commitment perspective, not a political one.

Parents are not so sure.

Clinging to the idea of ​​a faction of biased and inappropriate teachers at Inderkum High School, community members demanded further investigation into the practices of the program in the district in a meeting on the 1st. September.

The teacher has been called a “fool” and “bully” as parents shouted charges of “indoctrination for education” and child abuse.

Jennifer Lane, a parent in the district, said the lack of involvement in the teacher’s curriculum was part of a long process of removing parents’ rights and their participation in the education process.

“We were silent when you removed religious and medical exemptions and made vaccinations mandatory,” Lane said, referring to laws passed in recent years that require the immunization of public school students against diseases like measles.

Timothy Snowball is a lawyer who blamed the curriculum divide on teachers’ unions.

“These entities no longer see themselves as organizations defending the hours, wages, working conditions of members, but rather as social justice organizations pushing for the awakening of a comprehensive program to demolish and transform American society.” Snowball said.

Parent Richard Gilbert spoke of how some of his best high school experiences discussed current news and events in class, “but I never knew what my teacher thought about these things.”

He had his “suspicions” but didn’t know whether his teacher was a Republican or Democrat, Liberal or Conservative.

Photos and videos from the board meeting show “members of the community” in paraphernalia associated with the Proud Boys, a far-right group whose members were involved in planning the raid on the United States Capitol on January 6. A man wearing a black bandana as a mask and thick-rimmed glasses sported a “Make America PROUD Again” hat.

A different view

Community lawyer Sonia Lewis, who was not at the meeting, asked, “What’s wrong with teaching students to be revolutionary? ”

Lewis has been an educator for over 20 years and is also a member of the African American Advisory Council for the United District of Sacramento. In early July, the AAAB called for the sacking of Katherine Sanders, a registered teacher using racist language in her elementary Spanish class in Sacramento. Two months later, this teacher is still on paid leave.

Lewis sees hypocrisy in the way Sanders and the Inderkum professor were treated.

She knows Natomas’ teacher from her work in the community and believes that while their statements on the undercover video were “boastful,” the teacher did not deserve to be fired. She sees no problem with her teachings about being a revolutionary because “revolution means change.”

“All children should be revolutionaries. Education is a powerful tool, ”said Lewis. “If I were a math teacher, I would have 180 days to move my students from failing math to success. ”

She campaigns to provide each child with “the tools to defend himself, his community and the less privileged.”

The next steps

The Natomas District has asked Project Veritas to view the complete, never-before-seen video of their conversation with the teacher.

So far, Superintendent Evans thanked the group for bringing the video to the attention of the District. He says he is very grateful for the information about the teacher’s class, even though it has been revealed in a “very unusual way.”

He says he wants to know “where maybe our system has failed our students.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: AV Benford is a member of Report For America Corp and an educational reporter for Cap Radio News and The Sacramento Observer. Support for this Sacramento OBSERVER article was provided to Word In Black (WIB) by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. WIB is a 10 black-owned media collaboration that includes print and digital partners.


Thelma J. Longworth