High School Teacher Exposes DHS ‘Indoctrination’ Program

Ramona Bessinger, a high school teacher in Providence, Rhode Island, authored a piece for the conservative blog Legal Insurrection recently to blow the whistle on training she and other educators received last fall, which she says would “indoctrinate children” under the guise of teaching them “media literacy” with funds from a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grant.

In the report published on Monday by Legal Insurrection, Bessinger recalls the training she and other teachers received from the University of Rhode Island’s Media Education Lab called Courageous RI to teach students what appears from her report to be political points of view on controversial topics and political activism.

Bessinger says federal funds sent from Washington through the DHS paid for the program to train teachers through an online course.

“Starting in September 2023, I attended a twelve-week online training through ‘Courageous Rhode Island’ at the University of Rhode Island, funded by a DHS grant of over $700,000,” she said in her report.

“The program is for K-12 teachers and is promoted as ‘media literacy.’ But it’s so much more than media literacy, and the impact of the training turned to teacher interaction with students and how students could be utilized as reporting sources,” she said, raising the concern that the curriculum is about recruiting students, not educating them about the media.

Courageous RI’s website says it “works to prevent rising violence and extremism in Rhode Island with authentic and respectful conversation.” The program acknowledges it receives “support from the Department of Homeland Security.”

The curriculum says: “Confront the many forms of disinformation, hoaxes, and propaganda that are part of everyday life. Experience the practical power of strategies for critically analyzing media messages that shape public opinion about education. Consider the power of media literacy as a civic skill and examine how people of all ages learn to spot disinformation.”

Bessinger explained that during “the breakout sessions and project sessions, some teachers complained about their students with opposing views. According to one facilitator, these students were part of the ‘outer group’ and would need to be brought back into the ‘inner group’ specifically conservative students that may have outwardly expressed support for Trump.”

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