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DC public school teacher who applauded China's COVID-19 response receives 'History Teacher of the Year' award

Photo by NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP via Getty Images

Caneisha Mills, a D.C. Public Schools teacher who once praised China's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, has received the honor of becoming the district's "History Teacher of the Year."

Mills' Hardy Middle School biography states that her goal in the school is "not to 'just facilitate schooling,' but she hopes to instill students with the skill of interpreting 'facts' from the past to critically assess current events."

"This," the biography continues, "she believes is true education."

What are the details?

On Wednesday, the D.C. Public Schools' Twitter account announced Mills as the district's history teacher of the year.

The district tweeted, "Congratulations to Caneisha Mills of @HardyMSHawks for being named the 2021 DC History Teacher of the Year! Ms. Mills has done excellent work supporting her students and the teachers of the district more broadly, and we're thrilled to see her recognized for her efforts."

According to a Thursday report from the Daily Wire, Mills works with the Zinn Education Project, which is an educators' organization that aims to "[promote] and [support] the teaching of people's history in classrooms across the country."

The organization is named after Howard Zinn, well-known socialist thinker and political activist.

Mills earlier this year, the outlet reported, wrote a tribunal for the organization in which she asked students "who's to blame" with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The missive began, "By March 13, the last day of in-person classes in Washington, D.C., I had moved all desks in my classroom six feet apart and encouraged students to remain calm, use hand sanitizer, have empathy for other teachers and students, but to take precautions. It was clear to my students, who live in every region of the city and are overwhelmingly students of color, other teachers, and the entire staff at Hardy Middle School that the coronavirus, coupled with a lack of response or preparation, would change our lives for the unforeseeable future."

Mills said that she'd originally planned to "complete a culminating group discussion on the Indian Removal Act," but she knew that the current events at the time took precedence over the activity.

"I ... knew my students were being inundated with more articles, graphs, and research on the pandemic," she continued. "Xenophobia was also on the rise as people across the country used racist language to describe the coronavirus."

Mills said that she had her students take a survey shortly thereafter about the class's subject matter and proclaimed that 54 out of 60 students in her class said that they wanted to have a "tribunal on who's to blame for the crisis in the United States."

According to the Daily Wire, "defendants included racism, capitalism, and the U.S. government" among others.

"The tribunal ... also offered praise of the Chinese government for its handling of the virus," the outlet added. "Mills' lesson plan also presented an argument that applauded China for its handling of the coronavirus. She claims that China took 'exactly the measures that a government should take in times of crisis.'"

Mills also reportedly claims that China "donated tons of medical supplies" to the United States.

She said, "I wanted to ... point out that the capitalist system was behind the pain, trauma, isolation, and destitution [my students] were facing. Capitalism, racism, and the U.S. government left us to die."

The exercise, according to Mills, was inspired by the Black Panthers.

Mills concluded that her students said that they "wanted to put Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and all members of the federal government in jail" for what they said was a mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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