A Virginia high school teacher is under fire for calling efforts to make kids behave in class “the definition of white supremacy.”
Josh Thompson, an English teacher at Blacksburg High School, posted a since-deleted TikTok video attacking Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) used in Montgomery County schools, Fox News said.
The teacher called the techniques that help reduce disruptive student behavior “white supremacy with a hug.”
“It’s things like making sure that you’re following directions, and making sure that you’re sitting quietly, and you are in your seat — and all these things that come from white culture,” he said in the video, which was saved before being deleted as is being widely shared online.
“The idea of just sitting quiet and being told stuff and taking things in in a passive stance, is not a thing that’s in many cultures,” Thompson claimed.
“So if we’re positively enforcing these behaviors, we are by extension positively enforcing elements of white culture,” he claimed with a smug smile.
That “keeps whiteness at the center — which is the definition of white supremacy,” he said.
In another saved clip, Thompson told educators that “instances of police brutality and the murders of black and brown people by police officers is directly connected to the work that we do.”
“Because if any of those people had been White, chances are they wouldn’t have been murdered. Chances are they wouldn’t have been brutalized,” he said.
“Much of this is wrapped up in implicit bias, and we have incredible power to change people’s biases when they are young. We have to be talking about these issues in schools” he said.
Thompson appeared to have made all of his social media private by Wednesday morning — but not before his videos sparked a firestorm online.
“Civility is now white supremacy?” one commentator, Pamela Barton, asked. “This teacher needs to be terminated. We cannot have someone this ‘confused about reality’ teaching!”
Podcaster Max Lugavere called Thompson’s tirades “insane.”
“This is actual racism. And condescending af to people of color,” he tweeted.
One black teacher, @MissLeFlore, said that “any notion that behaving and following directions are inherently white traits disgusts me.”
“It highlights the bigotry of low expectations that permeates the Education system. Black and Brown students are capable and should not be held to separate standards,” the fellow English teacher insisted.
Another former teacher insisted that “children CANNOT learn in chaos” — while others shared images of well-behaved students in classrooms in nations across the world.
Amid the outrage, one person also quipped, “So you’re telling me when I was in school and not listening, I was fighting racism? Wait until my mom hears this!”
The Montgomery County School District told Fox News of the video that it was “proud” of its PBIS behavioral policies that have been used for 8 years to “create a standard for social-emotional learning and behavior expectations in the school building.”
Still, the district stood by its teacher’s videos.
“A teacher is entitled to their personal belief regarding any division program,” the statement to Fox said, while stressing that “the statements made by this teacher do not reflect our PBIS program or the behavioral expectations that we have of students in our schools.”
Thompson previously wrote about his “justice work” in an article last June for the National Education Association, claiming he was “giving my students a more effective education.”
“One of the challenges of fighting for education justice is having to deal with people who have grown up in a hetero, white supremacist, patriarchal society,” he wrote.
“Yes, I’m a cisgender white man but my gay identity was sort of a window into what it is like for marginalized people. I’ve always known that,” he said.
“Speaking as a gay man in a straight world, it’s hard sometimes to be around a bunch of straight people and having to navigate that,” he wrote.
Likewise, “living in a white supremacist society drains people of color of their energy,” he argued.