EXCLUSIVE: Oregon middle school teacher slams 'American Dream', discusses plan to turn students into radical activists

"Of course we want our teachers to know about whiteness... but we've got to start telling these children as soon as possible what's going on," the Beaverton junior and senior high school teacher said.

Libby Emmons Brooklyn NY

New video has emerged of a teacher in Beaverton, Ore. telling teachers that they need to burst the bubble of the American Dream not just for teachers, but for students. This was during a Zoom call that happened prior to the start of the 2020 school year.

Katharine Watkins, who identifies herself as an 8th grade humanities teacher at Cedar Park Middle School and notes that her pronouns are "she, her, we and us," previously claimed that teachers who do not teach critical race theory are engaging in a form of child abuse.

In a Zoom call recorded last August about how to go back to school during COVID, the junior and senior high school teacher said that "the biggest thing, too, is we need to start having antiracist education for our students. Of course we want our teachers to know about whiteness, and stuff like that, but we've got to start telling these children as soon as possible what's going on."

"We burst the bubble of Santa and the Easter Bunny, but we go ahead and let Uncle Sam and the American Dream continue on. Meanwhile, the children are growing up, and things aren't matching up. The things that are promised in the school system and what reality is, they're not matching up. And it's enraging."

She went on to say that "We all need to talk to our superintendents, our principals, and really talk about what's more important: Social emotional learning, or the curriculum? Now obviously we can smash it all together, but which do they feel is more heavy? And hopefully you would have an admin that would say the social emotional learning is more important than anything.

"But then also, I'm sorry, but this is how I do it: If I see that everyone else is still going with the regular rigor and stuff like that, I just don't tell people what I do. I close the door and take care of my students."

Watkins noted that the call was being recorded and that now everyone could know her tactics.

"Now is the perfect time actually, to make more of an impact than we ever have," Watkins said. "Because this is really the 'third rising,' we've already done the Civil War, we've done the Civil Rights. This is the next time. This is the next time. And so with everything we have, with all these tools, James Baldwin, and just everybody, we get to now use those in a way we've never been able to do."

"And so I really want to talk to about how to keep your teachers and your principals and your superintendents accountable. You being the activist for your student, but also having your student be an activist for themselves, so that they are the ones who are also saying 'this is a problem.' So we're teaching them how to get that power rather than just waiting to see what happens. That follow-up, that follow-up, and taking it even to social media."

When Watkins talks about the "third rising," she is bringing up the concept of, essentially, "third wave antiracism." Discussing this concept in The Atlantic, Columbia Linguistics Professor and author John McWhorter said that "third wave antiracism" is considered to be parallel to third-wave feminism. The idea is that "The battle against racism and its effects is often described in a similar three-part timeline, with movements against slavery and segregation, and then—vaguely—the post-civil-rights era."

McWhorter discusses this third wave as "a profoundly religious movement in everything but terminology." He wrote, in 2018, that "The idea that whites are permanently stained by their white privilege, gaining moral absolution only by eternally attesting to it, is the third wave's version of original sin." This appears to be the religion Watkins wants to indoctrinate her students into.

"I want to talk about pushing your schools about the Black Lives Matter materials, as well," Watkins told teachers who were preparing for a year of remote schooling. "Portland does Black Lives Matter" curriculum.

"I work for the Beaverton School District, and it's almost like you can't even say Black Lives Matter, because some people think that it is just a group of people. Alot of people are not understanding this is a movement. Those are the things I'm going to focus on," he said.

For Watkins, the focus is about teachers teaching activism, being activists, and turning their students into activists. "I just think that teachers need to become more of an activist than they ever have been and risking their safety to fight for their students."

Watkins was a featured speaker at an online event called "Race Talks: United to Break the Chains of Racism," about how to go "Back to school During COVID-19." Watkins was one of four listed speakers.

The digital flier for the even read that "As COVID-19 continues to rage across the United States, BIPOC communities are disproportionately impacted by high numbers of unemployment, under-funded schooling, inadequate health care, a limited number of housing resources, and deaths.

"We will discuss the controversy and concerns of sending students and teachers back to school under perilous conditions. Four BIPOC Educators from the Portland-Metro area will weigh in on how they are preparing themselves and their communities to go back to school this Fall."

Neither Katharine Watkins nor the school district provided comment by the time of publication.


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