Elementary school encourages students to participate in a Black Lives Matter march, teaches ‘pyramid of hate'
An elementary school in Maine held a march where students chanted 'Black Lives Matter' at the behest of teachers
An elementary school in Maine held a march where students chanted "Black Lives Matter," following weeks of preparation and activist encouragement by teachers and staff.
Educators at Presumpscot Elementary School (PES) in Portland, Maine, encouraged fifth grade students to participate in a school-organized Black Lives Matter march, according to public records requests filed by Parents Defending Education (PDE). Teachers at the school also promoted political activism to students in assignments like the "Pyramid of Hate."
In a video posted on the school's Facebook page, almost all the school's students can be seen marching and shouting "Black Lives Matter" at the behest of adults guiding them.
"There are many moments as an educator/leader when you are humbled by the students and staff you work with. Friday was one of those moments," PES's post said, which PDE attributes to the school's principal. "I was waiting at the green light on the corner of Washington and Preusmpscot behind a car. We were waiting to turn left when most of our school held up traffic as they marched chanting Black Lives Matter. It was incredible."
A fifth grade teacher who helped organize the march explained in the lead up to the event that students would take part in the march on February 28 to celebrate the end of Black History Month.
"This march is organized and led by the 5th grade civil rights team and is united in the message that Black Lives Matter here at Presumpscot and in our global community!" she wrote. "Classes are invited to join the march by walking with us and visiting our memorial/celebration in the new cafeteria throughout the day."
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Another document obtained by PDE that "appears to be created by students" outlined plans to "make BLM posters," "make hands/fists to hang around the school" and provide a "different quote over the loudspeaker everyday from a Black activist."
The organizing teacher emailed staff, predicting, "The halls will be quite bustling and noisy – I imagine students will be starting with a chant of ‘BLACK LIVES MATTER!'" to which another teacher responded: "I will have a chat with my kindergartners in advance to help them understand on their level what BLM means" and asked if anyone had "a great video or read aloud to suggest for introducing this topic to five and six-year-olds."
Another photo obtained by PDE depicts a teacher showing students a "Pyramid of Hate," which the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) describes as an Illustration of "the prevalence of bias, hate and oppression in our society."
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"While every biased attitude or act does not lead to genocide, each genocide has been built on the acceptance of attitudes and actions described at the lower levels of the Pyramid," according to the ADL. In following this logic, the ADL argues that actions such as a "lack of self-reflection or awareness of privilege," "non-inclusive language" or "microaggressions" could lead to "the act or intent to deliberately and systematically annihilate an entire people."
In another document attached to the emails, a teacher reportedly asked students to complete projects titled "Human Rights Activist Slideshow" and "Human Rights Activist Research."
Caroline Moore, vice president for PDE, blasted the elementary school for introducing political activism into the classroom.
"Instead of providing a megaphone to spread hateful rhetoric, protesting anthems, and sponsoring marches, teachers should use their platform to remind students of academic deadlines, offer office hours or tutoring, and give them the chance to thrive academically," she said in a statement to Fox News Digital. "Civic engagement is an important aspect of life for all students to learn and participate in, just as volunteering and giving back to their communities make people well-rounded citizens. However, these activities should be done outside of school hours, like all other civic engagement activities."
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PES is a part of Portland Public Schools, which has appeared to present political issues to students in its curriculum in the past. In 2021, the school board adopted a "$2.9 million" equity policy to "meet the moment" of "racial reckoning," according to PDE.
The district also has a policy titled "Resolution Supporting Equity in School Climate and Discipline and Ending the Use of School Resource Officers," where it states its support for "Black Lives Matter" and disapproval of school policing due to its "entrenched stereotypes and racism."
After Black Lives Matter Portland called for the removal of police from school budgets, the school district directed the superintendent not to renew its contract with the Portland Police Department and stated "teachers, administrators, and staff are prohibited from calling the police to intervene unless a student's behavior poses real and immediate risk of serious physical harm."
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In addition, "the Superintendent must implement an action plan to eliminate race-based disparities in the use of disciplinary referrals, in the severity of punishments, and in the impact of disciplinary action on students," the policy stated.