Teacher Says Parents Who Want Schools Reopened Reflect White Supremacy

A teacher in Sacramento, California, publicly lambasted parents in the school district where he lives who are pushing for schools to reopen and resume in-person learning. In a post on social media, he characterized their behavior as being reflective of structural white supremacy.

The Reopen California Schools organization is demanding an apology from Sacramento City Unified School District administrators after a teacher working in that district, identified as John F. Kennedy High School's Damian Harmony, ridiculed parents in a neighboring school district in a social media post.

The Sunday post to Facebook accused some parents of abusing teachers and treating them like a "wait staff" amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In his post, Harmony actually addressed the local school board where he lives (the Washington Unified School District), and made it clear that he was speaking as a parent himself, not as an educator. The Latin teacher described himself "as a parent in full support of the teachers staying home in distance learning because it remains the safest and most humane practice."

Harmony blasted local parents in his area who have put teachers "in harm's way" by demanding to reopen schools that have been shut down in adherence with coronavirus pandemic social distancing guidelines.

A @officialSCUSD teacher in Sacramento publicly calling parents white supremacists and bullies that speak in favor of in-person learning. I thought we were done with this.@officialSCUSD, please make sure the parents in your district get an apology. cc: @ScusdP https://t.co/eSFUBWvz8o pic.twitter.com/wVL9sJ6Y6e

— Reopen California Schools (@ReopenCASchools) March 29, 2021

"I come to you as a grateful parent. I'm grateful that I kept my children home. And I'm especially grateful for what I heard from parents last week," Harmony's post reads.

"Until then, the only way I could measure the level of white supremacy in my neighborhood was the Next Door app. The people clamoring for a district to break its legally-negotiated MOU with teachers who are going to be teaching their own children, who treat the teachers' efforts as though they've not been exhausting and ever-present, while also going through a pandemic themselves, made it much easier."

Elsewhere in the post, Harmony characterized the parents who are insisting that local schools be reopened as engaging in "ableist, structurally white-supremacist hysteria."

He wrote, "I'm as disappointed as I am unsurprised that last week, we all had to hear all the cynical, pearl-clutching, faux-urgency, ableist, structurally white-supremacist, hysteria, even as teachers were moving forward with an MOU that already put them in harm's way and was asking too much of a beleaguered group of professionals."

Harmony's Sunday post against the parents in his home school district continued, criticizing them as a "verbal and entitled few" in an otherwise friendly community.

"This is not a country club. Our teachers are not the wait staff whom you callously and inhumanely disdain because they failed to anticipate that you wanted lime instead of lemon with your water when you walked in the door. This is a public service, aimed at educating your children so they grow up to be better than our generation. You set that back by quite a bit. And they're watching. Our children are watching as you make ablistic attacks on Board Member Pizzotti out of one side of your mouth, and pretend to care about children with special needs with the other."

"This is who you are. Our children are watching, and you showed them, and your teachers, that you value neither. During a pandemic. God help us all if there's another one, because you sure as hell won't. I'm pretty goddamned done being polite and thinking there's an acceptable middle ground on some topics. This is one of them," the post concluded.

Several groups, including Reopen California Schools, responded to the post by demanding an apology from administrators in the district where Harmony works, the Sacramento City Unified School District.

Newsweek reached out to the Sacramento City Unified School District on Monday afternoon for additional remarks.

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Marie Paule Kellerhals, class coordinator and teacher of French sign language (LSF) gives a lesson to deaf students in her classroom at Sajus school, on December 4, 2020. FRED SCHEIBER/AFP via Getty Images

Correction, 3/30/2021, 6:30 p.m. ET: This headline and article have been corrected to better reflect the content of Harmony's social media post, and to clarify that he never explicitly called any parents "white supremacists." Rather, he identified their behavior and attitudes as being reflective of white supremacy. The story has also been corrected to clarify that Harmony was addressing parents in his home district of Washington Unified School District, and not the district where he works as a teacher, the Sacramento City Unified School District.

Updated 3/30/2021, 8:28 p.m. ET: This story was further updated to make it clear that Harmony was speaking as a parent in his Facebook post, and not as an educator.