Sarah Grace Goolden
Dayanna Volitich, a Florida teacher who admitted to hosting the white supremacist podcast “Unapologetic,” has resigned after her racist comments became exposed in early March by the Huffington Post. Volitich claims she discusses “what others are too afraid to talk about,” but her account only feeds off of fear-mongering and propaganda that further divides the country. The scandal has brought up a lot of questions regarding bias and social media use in the classroom. Can someone who openly verbalizes “preferring her own race” be an effective, impartial educator?
Disguised under the Russian alias Tiana Dalichov, Volitich discussed topics such as the growth of Islam, differences in IQ between races and the hypocrisy of intersectional feminism. She commented regularly on the intelligence and treatment of minorities, claiming “JQ is incredibly complex.” JQ refers to the Jewish Question, an anti-semitic 19th-century conspiracy theory regarding the influence of Jewish people. Along with her negative comments regarding African and Muslim Americans, Volitich bragged about her ability to introduce white nationalist ideas into the classroom. After receiving complaints from concerned parents, she supposedly was able to lie to administration and get them to “back off.”
Volitich was a social studies teacher at Crystal River Middle School. From the rhetoric she perpetuated, it seems that there was no way she was separating her ideas from her lessons. “We have to take those institutions back,” said Volitich, referring to public schools. “Children [are] very important. The communists always knew that. They always wanted the minds of the children. That’s the future. So, if we can have more teachers in those positions, that would be great.” In her most recent podcast, Volitich agreed with her guest, Lana Lokteff, who claimed that science has proven some races are smarter than others. Lokteff is co-owner of RedIce, a far-right news source whose slogan is “the past is the future.”
It is irresponsible to allow this kind of harmful thinking into the school system. White supremacists cannot be in charge of the future generation because it only reinforces outdated ideas and isolates people of color. Volitich wanted to add more conservative voices in the classroom, but being conservative is not a synonym for being racist and the latter cannot be tolerated. It is no longer free speech when the safety of an entire group of people is at risk; it is hate speech and there is no room for hate in our schools.
Teachers are extremely influential for children, especially at such a young age as Volitich was teaching. They are seen as pillars of information who are well-equipped enough to teach them and therefore their opinions are valued. Racist teachers cannot provide their students with everything they need because they are prejudiced. It is not fair for kids to be discriminated against because of their race or religion, especially in school.
David Kushner, an English teacher at Middle Creek High School who never posts about politics on his social media, says teachers “should be able to share their thoughts and feelings,” on the internet, but argues that it is not the place for harmful and factually incorrect comments. He goes on to say that teacher bias is unavoidable but teachers “can be smart about trying not to be too biased, especially when it comes to politics.”
Volitich was unable to contain her racist views, both in and out of the classroom. This affects her teaching and possibly grading of students, proving that she was an unfit teacher. Children should not be going to school fearful that their educators believe they are not as good as their other peers.
Additionally, racism in the classroom, especially that exhibited by teachers, needs to be taken more seriously. Allegedly, this is not the first time Volitich was accused of infiltrating her ideas into her class, but this is the first time it was investigated. When students and their parents complain about prejudice, it needs to be addressed and taken care of accordingly. Without a proper review, kids have to wait until their teachers make a racist podcast and get exposed to a major news outlet. When students speak out, the administration needs to listen and assure they will do everything in their power to make sure no more white supremacist educators fly under the radar.