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Connecticut teacher resigns over racial curriculum, says it was stealing kids' 'innocence'

Written by on August 31, 2021

A Connecticut elementary school teacher has resigned, deriding her district’s “equity” curriculum as stealing students’ innocence through an excessive focus on race.

“They’re so young and naive and that to me was the hardest part about all of this,” teacher Jennifer Tafuto told Fox News in an exclusive interview. 

Tafuto contacted 1776 Action, an anti-critical race theory group, earlier this year after feeling troubled by the school district’s curriculum.

“We’re taking away that innocence because we’re trying to make them so obsessed with race and a characteristic that they can’t control. I feel so sorry for them. It breaks my heart and I just didn’t want to be a part of it anymore.”

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Tafuto, 27, was referring to equity sessions in which she was purportedly instructed to direct her students’ attention toward the race of characters in various books.

Connecticut teacher Jennifer Tafuto with daughter Layla. (Source: Jennifer Tafuto)

Connecticut teacher Jennifer Tafuto with daughter Layla. (Source: Jennifer Tafuto)

Tafuto with her daughter Layla. (Source: Jennifer Tafuto)

Tafuto with her daughter Layla. (Source: Jennifer Tafuto)

She told Fox News that the equity materials “went so far over [students’] heads for the most part.” Tafuto also suggested that she was directed to focus on race and students would focus on other aspects of characters in stories.

“If the question was, ‘what do you notice on this page?’ the kids would be like, ‘well his shirt’s red,’ or ‘he’s smiling, he’s having fun with his grandfather.'”

Manchester Public Schools did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment but verified a teacher training exercise sent by Tafuto, which asked teachers to reflect on the purportedly racial aspects of daily activities like brushing their teeth.

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The curriculum also purportedly required her to make certain statements about race and Black Lives Matter (BLM). If students mentioned BLM, Tafuto said, she was instructed to refer to a footnote that read: “The Black Lives Matter Foundation is an organized movement advocating for nonviolent civil disobedience in protest against incidents of police brutality against Black people.”

Additionally, she said she received a scripted answer for if children asked if other lives mattered. It read in part: “Imagine you are outside playing with a group of friends. While you are playing, you fall down and scrape your knee. Should we give everyone a bandage because everyone matters, or should we give it to you because, right now, you need it more than everyone else? We should give you the bandage right now, so you can heal.”

Another Manchester teacher, who corresponded on the condition of anonymity, confirmed the excerpts Tafuto provided to Fox News.

Tafuto with her daughter Layla and husband Mike (Source: Jennifer Tafuto)

Tafuto with her daughter Layla and husband Mike (Source: Jennifer Tafuto)

One of the prompts also allegedly addressed BLM demonstrations. It read: “When the boy was watching the news with his Pop Pop, he saw people everywhere ‘take a breath, take a stand, take a knee.’ This made me think of all of the people in my town who get together every night to take a stand at the ‘spot’ for Black Lives Matter.”

According to Tafuto, another read: “This story reminds me of the Black Lives Matter Movement because Dolores and Cesar marched and protested in the streets to fight for justice so that their people would be treated fairly. I saw a lot of BLM protestors marching in the streets for justice this past summer and they too were fighting for justice and fair treatment of their people!”

Tafuto ultimately resigned from Waddell Elementary School on July 14, according to MPS.

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In a video posted by 1776 Action, Tafuto elaborated on her decision to resign after just six years teaching in Connecticut. 

“After only six years as a teacher in Connecticut, I decided to resign from what I thought would be my forever career because I felt like more of a political activist than a teacher in my own classroom.”

She added that “unfortunately, what’s going on in classrooms across our country is pitting students against each other based on the color of their skin.”

Tafuto with her husband Mike. (Source: Jennifer Tafuto)

Tafuto with her husband Mike. (Source: Jennifer Tafuto)

Terms like “equity,” she said, had been used to “push critical race theory on teachers.”

Her criticisms were just the latest among parents and teachers who have resisted school districts’ efforts to push certain ideas about race.

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Earlier this month, in Virginia, a Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) teacher resigned at one of the district’s school board meetings. Fifth grade teacher Laura Morris declared in an emotional speech that she was “done with being a cog in a machine that tells me to push highly politicized agendas to our most vulnerable constituents – children.”

MPS did not respond to Tafuto’s remarks but the information she provided Fox News bore resemblance to materials that have emerged across the country.

Defenders of so-called “equity” curriculum generally argue that it helps foster understanding and breaks down systemic biases against minorities. Others have argued that the content is a form of neo-racism.

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Tafuto belongs to the Connecticut Education Association, which is part of the National Education Association (NEA) – one of the largest teachers’ unions in the country. NEA and American Federation of Teachers have already expressed support for CRT-related materials.

NEA previously approved a resolution conveying its desire to fight “anti-CRT rhetoric.” Another prompted Senate Republicans’ scrutiny by declaring that the NEA would “research the organizations attacking educators doing anti-racist work and/or use the research already done and put together a list of resources and recommendations for state affiliates, locals, and individual educators to utilize when they are attacked.”

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