Teacher Alerts To DHS-Funded ‘Media Literacy’ Program Indoctrinating Children

A Rhode Island teacher is sounding the alarm on a DHS-funded “media literacy” program that is designed to train teachers to combat “disinformation.”

Ramona Bessinger is a high school teacher from Providence, Rhode Island. She wrote a report for Legal Insurrection on Monday recounting the training she and other teachers participated in last fall through the University of Rhode Island’s Media Education Lab called Courageous RI.

Courageous RI was launched in March 2023 and was funded with a $700,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). A statement from the University of Rhode Island says that it is part of an effort to “prevent violence and extremism” and is meant to “provide professional development” for “educators, librarians, and law enforcement officials.”

According to the Courageous RI website, the program was inspired by an essay titled Learning to Avoid Extremism by Sigal Ben-Porath, a far-left University of Pennsylvania professor.

In her essay, Ben-Porath calls for schools to respond to “a rise in extremist ideologies and actions,” despite providing no data to support this claim. She asserts that domestic terrorism originates from information shared to children through textbooks, media, literary sources, and school culture.

Ben-Porath then proceeds to justify the monitoring of any students who may “veer off from reality and toward a misguided, unfounded, and at least potentially antisocial View” and suggests especially targeting young children “before and during the radicalization process.”

Bessignger says that the training was “hyper-focused” on former President Donald Trump and his “violent extremism” and influence regarding January 6th.

Under the program’s guidelines, any student or faculty member expressing opposing political views could be identified and referred to “thought partners” who would be tasked with correcting or persuading the individual to abandon their beliefs. In the worst case, students may report on each other.

William Jacobson, Cornell law professor and Founder of the legal Insurrection blog and the Equal Protection Project, said to Fox News, “DHS previously had to shut down its Disinformation Governance Board after public outrage. Yet similar ‘disinformation’ tactics are being implemented under the guise of media literacy training. I call on the House of Representatives to investigate this DHS program.”

Jacobson also suggested that “media literacy” programs can be a “Trojan Horse,” turning individuals into “de facto government informers.”

A spokesperson for the DHS sent Fox News a statement, asserting that “Violence prevention is non-partisan and ideologically agnostic. The TVTP Grant Program and grant recipients are legally and ethically required to adhere to policies and procedures that prohibit discrimination based on any protected class or belief.”