Implicit bias

This Teacher With a White Nationalist Podcast Is Outrageous But She's Not Alone

Two days after a Florida middle school teacher named Dayanna Volitich was outed as this White nationalist podcaster, the teacher is now denying that she is a White supremacist and called her podcast and Twitter feed “political satire and exaggeration.” Volitich has been removed from her classroom and is now “under investigation.” Here are a few inescapable conclusions for you, Dayanna:
  1. Your district bosses can count their lucky stars that they are in Florida, because that means you don’t have tenure, which means the district can fire you without any fear that your termination will get challenged as a “due process violation” based on First Amendment grounds. (Although given the fact that you are only 25 years old and have been a teacher for just 18 months, you wouldn’t have had tenure in any state except Mississippi.)
  2. If you were trying to be clever by creating an anagram of your name (you called it your “Russian pseudonym”), you failed—you missed by two letters. You also were not smart enough to disguise your appearance on your White supremacist Twitter feed—the Tiana Dalichov Twitter photo was a match for your staff photo—right on down to your dangly earrings.
  3. You are done as a teacher, because once you’re outed as a hateful, hypocritical, lying racist, it’s impossible to regain trust, respect and credibility from a classroom of teenagers—or the decent colleagues who have to work with you.
As for you, dear readers, if you’re not one of the quarter million people who shared the Huffpost exclusive on social media this weekend, here’s the short version of this story: On Saturday, HuffPost reported that the social studies teacher Volitich has been secretly hosting the White nationalist podcast “Unapologetic,” where she promoted the idea that Muslims should be “eradicated from the face of the Earth,” railed against school diversity, promoted anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, argued that “science” has proven that certain races are smarter than others, and bragged about “infiltrating” her public school with White supremacist views. The podcaster’s public Twitter feed has been turned off, but HuffPost managed to capture a few incendiary gems, like these: This tweet made me wonder whether Dayanna/Tiana kept a poker face during her anti-bias training, because I’ve seen teachers exchange discreet eye-rolls during their diversity classes, and it's hard to tell if they thought the training sessions were absurd, or if they rejected the reality of institutional racism in schools.

Dayanna May Be Outrageous, But She’s Not Alone in Our Schools

Yes, this story is outrageous, in part because Dayanna’s stated views are so extreme and hateful that it makes you wonder how she gravitated to a teaching career, a profession that doesn’t usually lend itself to self-promoting attention-seekers drawn to “generating conversation” about white supremacy. If you are a racist and want to keep your teaching job, it’s probably smart to put down the social media megaphone and stay on the down-low. When I was a newspaper reporter, I covered another story about a different teacher who created a thinly-disguised blog demeaning his South Side Chicago students, parents and colleagues with mocking, racist caricatures.
He labeled his students "criminals," saying they stole from teachers, dealt drugs in the hallways, had sex in the stairwells, flaunted their pregnant bellies and tossed books out windows. He dismissed their parents as unemployed "project" dwellers who subsist on food stamps, refuse to support their ‘baby mommas’ and bad-mouth teachers because their no-show teens are flunking. He also took swipes at his colleagues, too—“union-minimum" teachers, literacy specialists who "decorate their office door with pro-black propaganda," and security officers whose "loyalty is to the hood, not the school."
This Chicago teacher saw himself as a victim of his violent school—and insisted many of his colleagues shared his views—but instead of trying to change the system, he drew attention to a blog that he had to know would make it impossible for him to keep teaching. He, too, was young and untenured, so it was easy to get rid of him. His principal concluded: "He's lost his credibility. He lost the faith and trust of his students." So make no mistake. Dayanna is not alone. These beliefs exist in our schools, and these teachers shape our children—their psyches, expectations and outcomes. We can give these teachers all the anti-bias training in the world, but that is only going to harden their views. The only way to root out this ugliness is to give credence to the students, parents and peers who complain about these beliefs and behaviors—but are too often dismissed by administrators who don’t want to address the complaints.
Tracy Dell’Angela
Tracy Dell’Angela is a writer, education nonprofit executive director and a mom passionate about education improvements. Previously, Tracy was Director of Outreach and Communications for the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) at the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C. She came to IES from the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research, which produces research that ...

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