Teacher Barnholdt expresses controversial views towards certain racial groups of students


Emily Wong

Teacher Roger Barnholdt expresses controversial opinions about the value of education in relation to racial groups.

Emily Wong and Luna Ashebir

Writer’s note: The Wildcat Tribune does not support Barnholdt’s generalized views on specific racial groups of students. The ideas he expressed in this interview are his own. We believe all students deserve a chance to thrive in an open and non-judgemental environment.

Dougherty Valley teacher Roger Barnholdt expressed racially biased views during an interview with student reporters conducted on Sept. 15 2022. These views appear to be rooted in his previous experience teaching at San Lorenzo High School.

Barnholdt was interviewed about his life as a teacher and as an Olympics historian. During the interview, he disclosed controversial views he had on a sensitive topic: racism. Initially focusing on his general love for teaching, Barnholdt started the interview off by describing what he likes to see in his students:

“I love [teaching]. And what I love even more are students that love school, that love our country and that respect their elders,” he said.

This statement seemed to be very specific, and Barnholdt further elaborated later in the interview. The characterizations of students as loving or not loving school were based on what he felt his last teaching job at San Lorenzo High School failed to provide him. 

“This school and Dublin [High School] are great. Now where I taught in San Lorenzo, without being prejudiced or anything like that, as a group, they have to go to school and sometimes they don’t want to and they hate school basically,” Mr. Barnholdt said. 

In addition to their alleged opposition to learning, Barnholdt explained that the students were not welcoming towards him, primarily because of his race. 

“Many of them would say this out loud. I’m not gonna say it’s everybody, but they would say they didn’t like white people. So, you know, obviously, I’m a white person,” he said.

Barnholdt went on to name specific racial groups that he felt lacked this proper appreciation for education.

“Those two groups of people [my first degree was in sociology] were African American and Latin American students. So those are groups that in general, I didn’t say this, but in general, academia says those are groups [that] don’t really appreciate education as much as other groups, like [the Europeans that I descended from], and Asians in general. I’m just saying that it’s in general, not trying to be prejudiced,” Barnholdt defensively affirmed. 

According to U.S. News, San Lorenzo High School has a 62% Hispanic and 14.3% Black student/staff population, making the majority of the students a part of the groups who, according to Barnholdt, “don’t appreciate education.” 

On the other hand, Dougherty Valley has a 77.4% Asian population and a 10.5% White population (both of which Barnholt claimed appreciate education), possibly explaining his description of Dougherty Valley as a “godsent” school for him. 

Furthermore, he went on to share a specific experience he had with a student he taught in San Lorenzo. 

“I’ll never forget what one girl said,” he recalled. “I went to give her a fist bump. She goes, ‘I don’t know you like that.’ And I just thought, okay, wow. My relatives have been here for 250 years. My dad laid down his youth for our country in World War II. So I’m not going anywhere. And basically, this is my country,” Barnholdt finished off, giving no further insight as to why he felt that a refusal to a fist bump was related to patriotism.

  After the administrators were notified about the comments made by Barnholdt, Principal Evan Powell responded, “We are proud of you for sharing this truth with the community. What this teacher shared in the interview does not align with Dougherty Valley’s values, nor with the values of SRVUSD, and we denounce behavior like this. The teacher has not been on site and teaching since we were informed of this.”