Andrew Gutmann, parent of a 4th grader at the elite Brearley School in New York City, has touched a nerve in today’s woke culture. His 1,700-word letter to 650 parents at the school, decrying the famed institution’s race-saturated curriculum went viral after being leaked.
Mr. Gutmann explained in his April 13, 2021, letter why he and his family decided not to reenroll their daughter at Brearley for the 2021-22 school year. The letter discusses his objections to the schools’ embrace of critical race theory. Here are two of his objections that are particularly forceful.
I object to the view that I should be judged by the color of my skin. I cannot tolerate a school that not only judges my daughter by the color of her skin, but encourages and instructs her to prejudge others by theirs. By viewing every element of education, every aspect of history, and every facet of society through the lens of skin color and race, we are desecrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and utterly violating the movement for which such civil rights leaders believed, fought, and died.
I object to the idea that Blacks are unable to succeed in this country without aid from government or from whites. Brearley, by adopting critical race theory, is advocating the abhorrent viewpoint that Blacks should forever be regarded as helpless victims, and are incapable of success regardless of their skills, talents, or hard work. What Brearley is teaching our children is precisely the true and correct definition of racism.
Predictably, the response from the Brearley administration is to suggest Mr. Gutmann is a racist, ignoring that what he was so vehemently opposing in his letter was the racism inherent in critical race theory. Surely the Brearley administration is capable of grasping how anti-racism has devolved from the ideals of Martin Luther King Jr to the decrees of Black Lives Matter. Or perhaps not.
We express our unequivocal support for our Black, Asian, Indigenous, Multiracial and Latinx students, faculty, staff, and alums. Many of our students of color, especially those who identify as Black, felt that the letter questioned their belonging in the Brearley community. Their belonging and their excellence are unquestionable.
Brearley Is Not Alon
* Paul Rossi, a teacher at Grace Church High School in Manhattan, wrote an essay, which podcaster Bari Weiss published on April 13 (as she did Andrew Gutmann’s letter). Mr. Rossi warned that Grace Church’s focus on race was damaging to students. Here is a short excerpt of his essay.
As a teacher, my first obligation is to my students. But right now, my school is asking me to embrace “antiracism” training and pedagogy that I believe is deeply harmful to them and to any person who seeks to nurture the virtues of curiosity, empathy and understanding …
My school, like so many others, induces students via shame and sophistry to identify primarily with their race before their individual identities are fully formed. Students are pressured to conform their opinions to those broadly associated with their race and gender and to minimize or dismiss individual experiences that don’t match those assumptions.
* “Parents at Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles gather to strategize in their war on the school’s race orthodoxy. Bari Weiss was invited to one such gathering, and reported what transpired in “The Miseducation of America’s Elites.” This from City Journal
Affluent parents, terrified of running afoul of the new orthodoxy in their children’s private schools, organize in secret.
In a backyard behind a four-bedroom home, ten people sat in a circle of plastic Adirondack chairs, eating bags of Skinny Pop. These are the rebels: well-off Los Angeles parents who send their children to Harvard-Westlake, the most prestigious private school in the city.
Most of all, they worry that the school’s new plan to become an “anti-racist institution”—unveiled this July, in a 20-page document—is making their kids fixate on race and attach importance to it in ways that strike them as grotesque.
These are America’s cream of the crop $40,000 – $55,000 a year schools, feeders to Princeton, Yale, and Harvard. Average on-lookers might find it strange that any student at such schools would actually view themselves as oppressed. But, often reality is situational.
Chances are there will be more schools embracing a race-based curriculum
On April 19, The U.S. Department of Education proposed a two-prong approach to embed race-based curriculum in American schools. The proposals are described in The Federal Register (the public comment period of these proposals ends May 19, 2021).
Proposed Priority 1—Projects That Incorporate Racially, Ethnically, Culturally, and Linguistically Diverse Perspectives into Teaching and Learning. Proposed
Priority 2—Promoting Information Literacy Skills.
Proposal #1 is fairly clear. Proposal #2 is open to interpretation, but might mean simply don’t look at anything on Zero Hedge, The Keiser Report, or Alex Jones.
President Joe Biden is considering grants to support implementation of these proposals. Public schools always need more money. Private schools might be welcoming extra funding to make up for loss of tuition due to Covid-19 closure. Federal grant money could be the enforcing mechanism for implementation of critical race theory in American schools.
In Fairness To Woke Progressives
Parents rebelling against today’s critical race theory curriculum are often quoted as saying their children are being indoctrinated, not educated. True, indoctrination of what is occurring.
However, it is only fair to say woke indoctrination on race is not unique in America. Our country’s schools operated under strict government-sanctioned segregation by race for nearly 80 years. The school segregation mirrored the wider culture at the time, when white people felt they needed to be vigilant against black people “forgetting their place.”
Thankfully, there were brave people who fought to dismantle the race-obsessed, baseless indoctrination inherent in Jim Crow.
Let’s ensure today’s parents are not contributing, willing or unwillingly, to raising racists. Let’s not let our desire to foster inclusiveness to turn into obsession with race.