TB Investigates

Principal Defends Mount Hope English Teacher For Teaching Lesson On White Privilege After Parents Complain

 

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Lisa Melmed is an English teacher at Mount Hope High School, serving the communities of Bristol and Warren, RI.

Yesterday a concerned parent posted a screenshot of a lesson she was teaching to kids remotely.

Your tax dollars pay 7th grade English teachers not to teach your kids how to read and write, but to acknowledge that white men, and apparently seniors, have privileges. Nowhere in the Rhode Island state educational frameworks is anything listed about this. The teacher is just using her position to brainwash kids with social justice dogma. Even if you believed that white privilege exists, it’s still just a theory or opinion at best. It’s certainly not a fact and should not be taught as one.

From the looks of it this teacher polled the students to ask who they thought was privileged, which is why it says men more than once. What would happen if someone said black women? Would she put that up there too, or correct the student? I can make a pretty strong case just by pointing to the ongoing existence of Monica Cannon-Grant that there’s a lot of percs and things you can get away with doing and saying if you are black and female.

All an assignment like this does is make children feel bad about themselves if they’re part of groups that get labeled as privileged. It causes other kids in class who aren’t a part of these privileged groups to resent them. It has zero place in public schools.

Principal Deb DiBiase was alerted to the post and sent the following email out to parents, spinning it as a lesson about Catcher in the Rye.

Today, it was brought to my attention that there were concerns raised about an English Language Arts introductory lesson to a unit in which students will be reading the literary classic, J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. The lesson introduced the concept of privilege so that students could ultimately compare Holden’s struggles to those of people from less fortunate backgrounds. It is important to us that our community be aware of the context and intent of the curriculum. This past summer, the district formed a Diversity Group composed of community members, parents, students, teachers, school committee members, and administrators. The team met throughout the summer to examine and reflect on our current practices and resources, with the goal of ensuring the inclusion of underrepresented groups in our curricula. As part of that work, our English teachers collaborated to update our curricula, including how we teach Catcher in the Rye, to align with current social issues and connect to other diverse texts. Drawing from current events and contemporary writings, we have added supplemental documents that make the content more relevant to today’s students. Our curriculum presents a variety of viewpoints challenging students to develop informed opinions, to respect diversity and, ultimately, to become culturally responsible citizens. At a time of social unrest, I applaud the English department for their commitment to include more diverse voices and texts to broaden our student’s understanding of society as a whole and especially of oppressed or marginalized groups. Thank you for your ongoing support!

Sincerely, Dr. Deb DiBiase

They formed a “diversity group” in a town in which 0.8% of the population is black, because pretending to care about black people is a lot easier than moving to a place with black people in it.

This line said it all.

As part of that work, our English teachers collaborated to update our curricula, including how we teach Catcher in the Rye, to align with current social issues and connect to other diverse texts.

They’re changing the curriculum completely because of black lives matter. They used to teach the book one way, but now they’re teaching it another way because BLM has taken over the public schools.

Catcher in The Rye is a classic piece of American literature. It chronicled the story of a bratty, bored, wealthy kid who wanted to rebel. From a historical perspective it’s a useful tool in teaching kids about the baby boomer generation who grew up in the affluent 50’s and early 60’s, and their yearning for excitement and purpose. Holden Caulfield’s generation had never lived through the Great Depression or World War 2 like their parents had. They knew nothing of hardship, and despite having all the material things they could possibly need thanks to the post-war economic boom, their lives were boring an unfilled which is why Holden rebelled. He thought everyone around him was “phony,” and his generation went on to push for social change in the late 1960’s.

That is the context in which Catcher in the Rye should be taught, because that was the message J.D. Salinger was trying to send as a beat culture writer. His book was banned in schools in the 1960’s because it promoted immorality, Holden had a potty mouth, he tried to have sex with a hooker, and it was viewed as communist propaganda (what wasn’t?). That is the lesson of the book – a new generation of writers were challenging conventional norms.

It had nothing to do with Holden Caulfield’s alleged white privilege. Holden was a child of rebellion, but the same could be said about any black kid in the 1950’s growing up listening to rhythm and blues. Their parents wouldn’t have liked it either. This teacher is bastardizing public education and a classic book in American literature because George Floyd died.

But of course these white guilt patrol is cheering the teacher on.

And their brainwashing campaign is clearly working too.

“These kids are a lot more aware and capable than many realize.”

There is a 0.0% chance Andrea Bee would say that if a student posted something about the importance of building a wall or not infringing on the second amendment. These people love to use children and tell us how wise they are (as long as they’re echoing left wing talking points), because at the end of the day their critical thinking skills are on par with your average 11th grader.

 

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