Cedar Park Middle School
Mrs. Katherine Watkins is a middle school Humanities teacher at Cedar Park Middle School in Beaverton, Oregon. During a district-wide summit, Mrs. Watkins threatened to fire teachers who refuse to adopt “antiracist” teaching methods.
The term “antiracist” is a phrase frequently used by Critical Race Theorists. Critical Theory, or Critical Race Theory, is an intellectual branch of Marxism that alleges American society and all of its founding institutions are infected with and perpetuate white supremacy. Furthermore, proponents of Critical Race Theory believe that people should take proactive steps to dismantle these institutions in the name of equity, which is also referred to as being “anti-racist.” Some Critical Race Theorists, such as Nikole Hannah-Jones, claim that America’s real founding was in 1619 when the first slave arrived in North America, rather than 1776 when the American colonies declared independence from Britain.
In a Zoom meeting captured by Parents Defending Education (PDE), Mrs. Watkins warned that other teachers present on the call will become obsolete in their respective jobs if they do not become antiracist educators.
“I’m going to something that is not nice and not sweet, but it’s true. If you’re not evolving into an antiracist educator, you’re making yourself obsolete in this field of profession. Our district is only getting browner and browner with our children. Obviously, you can’t change your melanin, alright, but you can change your mind so that you can actually function in a district that is full of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) children.”
Mrs. Watkins suggests that teachers who do not become antiracists must be fired for causing “trauma” to their students.
“So if you’re being resistant, I understand that, but eventually you’re going to have to come to the light. Because if you’re going to come with those old views of colonialism, it’s going to lead to being fired, because you’re going to be doing damage to our children—trauma.”
Mrs. Watkins even compares teachers who refuse to adopt her prescribed tactics to sexual predators.
“So, as we fire the teachers who sexually abuse our children, we will be firing the teachers who do racist things to our children and traumatize them. And, while our district might not be completely on there, OEA (Oregon Educators Association) is working on it, alright? NEA (National Education Association) It’s just a matter of time, You either evolve or dissolve.”
Mrs. Watkins made these remarks at the Beaverton School District’s Equity ABAR Summit. ABAR stands for “anti-bias, anti-racism.” In the slides acquired by PDE, summit organizers seek to train Beaverton teachers to “unearth issues of racism, decentering whiteness in the classroom, decolonizing academic curriculum, exploring intersectionalities, and disrupting deficit thinking narratives.” Sessions include “Going Beneath Your Whiteness,” “Ableism 101,” “Demystifying Black Lives Matter at School,” and, “How to Support DACAmented & Undocumented Students.”
As reported by Fox News, attendance was mandatory for all licensed district staff, and the summit cost $5,500 to host. PDE reports that over 3,000 educators from Beaverton participated in the meeting.
In a statement provided to Newsweek, the School District is continuing to stand by both Mrs. Watkins and the summit:
“In the comments, we hear Ms. Watkins expressing her expectation that all our educators authentically engage in anti-bias, antiracist work for the benefit of our students. The Beaverton School District serves a diverse population of students. More than half of our students identify as Black, Indigenous, or People of Color. Our goal as educators is to make sure that every child, staff member, and community member in our district feels welcomed, supported, and encouraged. As part of that commitment, we’re engaged in ongoing and critically important equity work which includes providing professional development to our staff.”
The video of Mrs. Watkins’s remarks may be viewed below.
Parents may contact the Beaverton School District at (503) 356-4500.
Updated – June 2021.
- Cedar Park Middle School
- Critical Race Theory Explained
- Beaverton School District Equity ABAR Summit
- Equity ABAR Summit - Presentation
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