Sarah Silikula’s son got into the car after school one day last month, upset and confused by what his teacher had just taught him. Armed with new knowledge, the eighth grader had an announcement and a revisionist history lesson for his mother.
“I’m never getting vaccinated. I’m never getting any more shots of any kind. Did you know Trump’s still president?” Silikula remembered him saying.
The boy’s middle school history teacher unleashed a rant during an Oct. 18 class at Anacapa Middle School in Ventura, Calif., KCAL first reported. She raved against coronavirus vaccines, the criminal justice system and the 2020 presidential election results. Silikula’s son used his phone to record a seven-minute video of his teacher’s diatribe, which he gave to his mother. Silikula shared the recording with Ventura Unified School District administrators, and officials there told The Washington Post that they investigated the incident and removed the teacher from the middle school but kept her on as a district employee.
“The teacher has expressed deep remorse,” a school district spokeswoman told The Post in an email.
The district has not identified the teacher by name and declined to provide information on specific reprimands, citing policy on employee personnel matters.
Superintendent Roger Rice, in a statement to The Post, said the district “does not condone the non-instructionally-related discussion that occurred in the classroom.” He added: “The Ventura Unified School District will work closely with staff to ensure that this does not happen again.”
The incident comes as classrooms and school board meetings are becoming political battlefields. Republican Glenn Youngkin, a political newcomer, upset Democratic contender Terry McAuliffe in last week’s gubernatorial election in Virginia by, in part, decrying state and local mask mandates for schools, saying the decision should be left up to parents.
Youngkin also inflamed the culture-war mainstay issues of race and transgender identity in schools, urging parents to get more involved in curriculum decisions. He and other conservatives have railed against critical race theory, an intellectual movement examining how policies and laws perpetuate systemic racism. The college-level framework, The Post has reported, is not taught in K-12 classrooms in Virginia or elsewhere in the country.
The Virginia governor’s race, which has historically served as a preview of issues likely to dominate midterm elections, also centered around the debate over coronavirus vaccine mandates.
The Anacapa Middle School teacher on Oct. 18 delivered several conservative talking points to her students, including on vaccines.
“If you have a baby in the hospital, they don’t want to give it back if you’re not vaccinated. This is a complete power control threat,” the teacher said in the recording, echoing debunked anti-vaccine talking points that went viral. A New York hospital announced in September that it would stop delivering babies because several employees quit instead of getting vaccinated, which led people to falsely claim online that unvaccinated parents wouldn’t be permitted to bring home their newborns, USA Today reports.
The teacher was also recorded making unproven claims about President Biden’s son, claiming Hunter Biden “was doing deals with China and Ukraine and all these places where he was funneling in money illegally.” Hunter Biden has been under federal investigation, though he maintains his innocence.
More broadly, the history teacher warned of general government overreach.
“People need to wake up and see the government has way too much power right now,” she told her students.
Silikula told KCAL that teachers are entitled to their political views, but they shouldn’t try to proselytize their students. Her son respects his history teacher and his other instructors, and is now challenging his parents because what they told him contradicts what he heard in the classroom, Silikula said.
“I trusted her to teach him the facts about history and she went off on this rant like a preacher on a pulpit,” Silikula said.
Silikula said Rice, the superintendent, told her that her son’s entire class was transferred to another teacher. The eighth-grader’s mom said she trusted her son’s educator to teach him the facts about history.
“He’s damaged. He’s hurt. He’s scared,” Silikula told KCAL. “He doesn’t trust his parents now. He thinks we lied to him.”