Former New York Times editor Bari Weiss has accused her previous employer of being too ‘woke’ to cover the growing row about New York City‘s private schools, after a teacher and a parent objected to the curriculum in two of the city’s most elite academic institutions.
Paul Rossi, a math teacher, was told on Sunday that he had been ‘relieved of his teaching duties’ by Grace Church School in the East Village of Manhattan following his April 13 essay published on Weiss’ site.
Andrew Gutmann, whose daughter attended The Brearley School, an all-girls private school in New York City, located on the Upper East Side, wrote a letter, also on April 13, to other parents complaining about efforts to ‘brainwash’ students with ‘woke’ philosophies rather than teaching them how to think on their own.
Weiss, who was the first to publish Gutmann’s letter on April 16, on Monday denounced her former employer for ignoring their stories.
‘In a sane world, you would have read Paul Rossi’s essay or Andrew Gutmann’s letter in the paper of record,’ she wrote.
Bari Weiss’s most recent substack newsletter attacks her former employer, The New York Times, and says ‘in a sane world’ an essay from Paul Rossi, right, who has been relieved of his teaching duties at Grace Church School, would have been ‘in the paper of record’
‘But such pieces will not appear in the Op-Ed pages of The New York Times or The Washington Post because those papers have mostly ignored the story of the ideological takeover of schools.
‘In part, that is because they are implicated in the story: The same ideological force transforming schools like Grace Church and Brearley has also transformed the establishment press.’
GRACE CHURCH SCHOOL ‘DIVERSITY MISSION STATEMENT’
The following is a ‘mission statement’ from Grace Church High School that spells out its commitment to ‘antiracism, equity, and belonging.’
Grace Church School seeks to provide its students with an outstanding education and with the desire to use it to make the world a better place.
Every facet of our work is enhanced by the diversity and strength of our community.
We believe that equity and inclusion are not only hallmarks of a just society, but also virtues essential to sound learning.
And so, Grace seeks to recognize and honor the unique gifts of its students, families, faculty, and staff – and the cultures, beliefs, values, and experiences that have shaped them – striving always to cultivate mutual understanding, humility, respect, and kindness.
But inclusion is not enough and equity is an impossibility if we cannot name, acknowledge, and oppose the forces of racism and all forms of bias, hate, and fear that exist in our society and that seek to diminish so many in our midst.
Knowing this, we commit ourselves to the work of antiracism and to the cause of justice: that all students may find in Grace a home, may learn from Grace their precious worth, and may hear from Grace a call to serve the common good and the dignity of humanity.
Weiss resigned in part because of what she saw as a stifling atmosphere, where free thinking was discouraged in favor of adherence to ‘woke’ mantras.
The New York Times has written about Grace Church School’s expansion plans, and in the context of parents debating whether school fees were worth it. But it does not appear to have covered Rossi’s row with head teacher George P. Davison, which ended with his dismissal.
Weiss said in her newsletter that she had received an email from a former parent at Grace Church, who said that one week of every month was devoted to ‘CRT’- Critical Race Theory.
‘I’m a former parent. My son had Paul Rossi,’ the email stated.
‘Sadly, Mr. Rossi’s account is not hyperbole. One week out of the month is now fully devoted to CRT (not academics).
‘Grace was in the news earlier this year as well for it’s language guide, which suggested (among other things) that students and teachers say folks or parents or family and not specifically mom and dad because not all kids have mom and dads and such a person might be offended if you ask about their mom and dad.
‘The goal of education cannot be to eliminate all possibility of offense.’
Weiss added: ‘The problem is that The New York Times would never have printed this at all. It’d be like the Catholic Church embracing John Calvin. The inability to tell such stories is one of the reasons I left.’
Rossi on Monday responded to Grace Church’s decision to bar him from classrooms.
In a letter to the head of the school, Davison, Rossi said he was ‘compelled to share what you have told me in our previous conversations’.
Rossi complained that Grace Church, which charges $57,000 a year, was overly focused on anti-racism training, and that it was hampering students’ education.
He said that Davison shared his views privately, writing – in an email published by campaign group Fair For All – that Davison had told him he had ‘grave doubts about some of the doctrinaire stuff that gets spouted at us, in the name of antiracism.’
Grace Church School, in the East Village, told Paul Rossi on Sunday he would no longer teach
Following Rossi’s scathing post, principal George P. Davison sent a letter to parents and staff saying he was ‘disappointed’ the math teacher had chosen to air his ‘differences’ in a public forum
Rossi on Monday said head George Davison privately agreed the school is now ‘demonizing white people for being born’
Rossi also hit back at Davison’s complaint at the issue being shared in the press. Rossi said he had shared his concerns privately over several years, but was ‘repeatedly shut down’.
Rossi said Davison had admitted privately that the school was ‘demonizing white people for being born’.
Topher Nichols, the school spokesman, told DailyMail.com Monday: ‘I can confirm that Paul was relieved of his teaching duties.
‘He has been invited to spend the remainder of his contract with the school contributing to a new task force that will review best practices nationwide around belonging.’
Rossi on Tuesday came forward with allegations in a blog post that he published on Substack
Nichols elaborated on why Rossi was ‘relieved of his teaching duties,’ saying it was because ‘numerous students requested to be removed from his class because of his unprofessional conduct and because he demeaned them in the press.’
Last week, Rossi said he decided to come forward because he could no longer stay silent while ‘witnessing the harmful impact’ that anti-racism instruction has on children.
He said it cultivated in children ‘despondency, resentment, and moral superiority’.
Last week, Rossi said he decided to come forward because he could no longer stay silent while ‘witnessing the harmful impact’ that anti-racism instruction has on children.
He is claiming headteacher Davison, privately agreed the school is ‘demonizing white people for being born’.
Topher Nichols, the school spokesman, confirmed to DailyMail.com Monday: ‘I can confirm that Paul was relieved of his teaching duties’
That note from Davison is said to have read: ‘You should know that Paul has declined his contract so will not be returning in the fall.
‘The wellbeing of our community is our first priority, and we take it seriously whenever students raise concerns about the professionalism of a teacher.
‘It is clear to me that Paul cannot be effective as a teacher at Grace any more. I have informed him that he is relieved of his teaching duties, and we’ve asked two support teachers to take over his math classes for the final quarter.
‘He has been asked to not come into the building without prior coordination.’
Gutmann, 45, said that he penned his 1,700-word letter he mailed to 650 different families because ‘someone had to speak out.’ He said he does not regret sending the letter.
‘She hasn’t been brainwashed yet by the school — but she’s had me at home. I’m not so sure that’s true of the other kids,’ Gutmann said.
‘Someone had to do it. Someone had to light the match. Everyone’s so afraid of cancel culture. We’re going to destroy the city, we’re going to destroy the country.’
Brearly School is an elite New York school which includes Tina Fey and Drew Barrymore among its parents
Jane Fried, Brearley’s head of school, sent a message to the school’s families on Friday in which she said students were ‘frightened’ to receive the letter at home
Jane Foley Fried, head of the Brearley School, is pictured in an undated photo
Gutmann said he he refused to sign the school’s anti-racism pledge in October.
The school had started the required pledge after black alumnae accused the school of racism in posts made to the Instagram account account ‘Black at Brearley,’ according to the Washington Free Beacon.
The school’s antiracism and diversity plans are extensively described on its website.
‘I thought they were going to kick my daughter out then,’ Gutmann said. ‘They didn’t but next year they have the pledge built into the yearly school contract.’
The concerned dad claimed that the school’s ‘once-rigorous curriculum’ completely changed after administrators ‘managed to sneak’ in an increased emphasis on race during the pandemic ‘when everyone was distracted,’ the New York Post reported.
‘I don’t know who’s really driving this and nobody does,’ he told the outlet.
Gutmann said the thing he resented the most about Brearley is that the school ‘has begun to teach what to think, instead of how to think.’
Jane Fried, Brearley’s head of school, sent a message to the school’s families on Friday in which she slammed Gutmann’s letter as ‘deeply offensive and harmful.’
‘This afternoon, I and others who work closely with Upper School students met with more than one hundred of them, many of whom told us that they felt frightened and intimidated by the letter and the fact that it was sent directly to our homes,’ Fried wrote.
‘Our students noted that as this letter, which denies the presence of systemic racism, crossed their doorways, the evidence of ongoing racism – systemic or otherwise – is daily present in our headlines.’
But Gutmann claims that Brearley students should not be ‘frightened’ by receiving a letter at their homes.
‘The upper schoolers are afraid of getting a letter at their home?’ Gutmann said Saturday.
‘They’re frightened and intimidated? The school has said it’s number one priority is to teach the girls intellectual bravery and courageousness. Either they are lying or else they have done an atrocious job.’
It was not immediately clear how Gutmann managed to receive the home addresses of the 650 families to home he sent the letters.
Gutmann said has received supportive emails from parents across the city.
‘There’s a whole underground-like movement out there,’ he told the New York Post.
Brearley’s alumni includes Caroline Kennedy, the actress Tea Leoni, Elisabeth Murdoch, Dorothy Schiff and Alice Gore King.
Jane Fried, head of Brearley, doubled down on the school’s position on Instagram, waving Gutmann and his daughter goodbye
This is Brearley’s exhaustive anti-racism calendar for the school year of 2020 to 2021 which includes training sessions for parents
In his letter, Gutmann mapped out what he called Brearley’s ‘critical race theory’ which he said is ‘advocating that Blacks should forever be regarded as helpless victims’.
One of the examples he gave was the school’s ‘sophomoric’ and ‘simplistic’ anti-training sessions for parents, and the fact that materials that have been taught for years are now suddenly considered offensive in light of the BLM movement.
He didn’t say which books had been pulled but said it applied to his daughter’s fourth grade class.
Gutmann fumed that the girls are being taught to hate their own country and that white students are being judged for the color of their skin.
He also denied that there was systemic racism in the US, saying there hadn’t been since the 1960s.
‘Systemic racism, properly understood, is segregated schools and separate lunch counters. It is the interning of Japanese and the exterminating of Jews. Systemic racism is unequivocally not a small number of isolated incidences over a period of decades,’ he said.
He also called out the school for claiming to care about diversity with its race stances while also prioritizing legacy students, siblings of other students or ‘families with especially deep pockets’.
‘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,’ he said.
Gutmann went on to say that the school was ‘indoctrinating’ the girls into a single mindset that is ‘most reminiscent of the Chinese Cultural Revolution.’
‘Over the past several months, I have personally spoken to many Brearley parents as well as parents of children at peer institutions,’ he wrote.
‘It is abundantly clear that the majority of parents believe that Brearley’s antiracism policies are misguided, divisive, counterproductive and cancerous.’
He added: ‘Many believe, as I do, that these policies will ultimately destroy what was until recently, a wonderful educational institution.’
Gutmann’s full letter
April 13, 2021
Dear Fellow Brearley Parents,
Our family recently made the decision not to reenroll our daughter at Brearley for the 2021-22 school year. She has been at Brearley for seven years, beginning in kindergarten. In short, we no longer believe that Brearley’s administration and Board of Trustees have any of our children’s best interests at heart. Moreover, we no longer have confidence that our daughter will receive the quality of education necessary to further her development into a critically thinking, responsible, enlightened, and civic minded adult. I write to you, as a fellow parent, to share our reasons for leaving the Brearley community but also to urge you to act before the damage to the school, to its community, and to your own child’s education is irreparable.
It cannot be stated strongly enough that Brearley’s obsession with race must stop. It should be abundantly clear to any thinking parent that Brearley has completely lost its way. The administration and the Board of Trustees have displayed a cowardly and appalling lack of leadership by appeasing an anti-intellectual, illiberal mob, and then allowing the school to be captured by that same mob. What follows are my own personal views on Brearley’s antiracism initiatives, but these are just a handful of the criticisms that I know other parents have expressed.
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 charge of systemic racism in this country, and at our school. Systemic racism, properly understood, is segregated schools and separate lunch counters. It is the interning of Japanese and the exterminating of Jews. Systemic racism is unequivocally not a small number of isolated incidences over a period of decades. Ask any girl, of any race, if they have ever experienced insults from friends, have ever felt slighted by teachers or have ever suffered the occasional injustice from a school at which they have spent up to 13 years of their life, and you are bound to hear grievances, some petty, some not. We have not had systemic racism against Blacks in this country since the civil rights reforms of the 1960s, a period of more than 50 years. To state otherwise is a flat-out misrepresentation of our country’s history and adds no understanding to any of today’s societal issues. If anything, longstanding and widespread policies such as affirmative action, point in precisely the opposite direction.
I object to a definition of systemic racism, apparently supported by Brearley, that any educational, professional, or societal outcome where Blacks are underrepresented is prima facie evidence of the aforementioned systemic racism, or of white supremacy and oppression. Facile and unsupported beliefs such as these are the polar opposite to the intellectual and scientific truth for which Brearley claims to stand. Furthermore, I call bulls** on Brearley’s oft-stated assertion that the school welcomes and encourages the truly difficult and uncomfortable conversations regarding race and the roots of racial discrepancies.
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.
I object to mandatory anti-racism training for parents, especially when presented by the rent-seeking charlatans of Pollyanna. These sessions, in both their content and delivery, are so sophomoric and simplistic, so unsophisticated and inane, that I would be embarrassed if they were taught to Brearley kindergarteners. They are an insult to parents and unbecoming of any educational institution, let alone one of Brearley’s caliber.
I object to Brearley’s vacuous, inappropriate, and fanatical use of words such as “equity,” “diversity” and “inclusiveness.” If Brearley’s administration was truly concerned about so-called “equity,” it would be discussing the cessation of admissions preferences for legacies, siblings, and those families with especially deep pockets. If the administration was genuinely serious about “diversity,” it would not insist on the indoctrination of its students, and their families, to a single mindset, most reminiscent of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Instead, the school would foster an environment of intellectual openness and freedom of thought. And if Brearley really cared about “inclusiveness,” the school would return to the concepts encapsulated in the motto “One Brearley,” instead of teaching the extraordinarily divisive idea that there are only, and always, two groups in this country: victims and oppressors.
l object to Brearley’s advocacy for groups and movements such as Black Lives Matter, a Marxist, anti family, heterophobic, anti-Asian and anti-Semitic organization that neither speaks for the majority of the Black community in this country, nor in any way, shape or form, represents their best interests.
I object to, as we have been told time and time again over the past year, that the school’s first priority is the safety of our children. For goodness sake, Brearley is a school, not a hospital! The number one priority of a school has always been, and always will be, education. Brearley’s misguided priorities exemplify both the safety culture and “cover-your-ass” culture that together have proved so toxic to our society and have so damaged the mental health and resiliency of two generations of children, and counting.
I object to the gutting of the history, civics, and classical literature curriculums. I object to the censorship of books that have been taught for generations because they contain dated language potentially offensive to the thin-skinned and hypersensitive (something that has already happened in my daughter’s 4th grade class). I object to the lowering of standards for the admission of students and for the hiring of teachers. I object to the erosion of rigor in classwork and the escalation of grade inflation. Any parent with eyes open can foresee these inevitabilities should antiracism initiatives be allowed to persist.
We have today in our country, from both political parties, and at all levels of government, the most unwise and unvirtuous leaders in our nation’s history. Schools like Brearley are supposed to be the training grounds for those leaders. Our nation will not survive a generation of leadership even more poorly educated than we have now, nor will we survive a generation of students taught to hate its own country and despise its history.
Lastly, I object, with as strong a sentiment as possible, that Brearley has begun to teach what to think, instead of how to think. I object that the school is now fostering an environment where our daughters, and our daughters’ teachers, are afraid to speak their minds in class for fear of “consequences.” I object that Brearley is trying to usurp the role of parents in teaching morality, and bullying parents to adopt that false morality at home. I object that Brearley is fostering a divisive community where families of different races, which until recently were part of the same community, are now segregated into two. These are the reasons why we can no longer send our daughter to Brearley.
Over the past several months, I have personally spoken to many Brearley parents as well as parents of children at peer institutions. It is abundantly clear that the majority of parents believe that Brearley’s antiracism policies are misguided, divisive, counterproductive and cancerous. Many believe, as I do, that these policies will ultimately destroy what was until recently, a wonderful educational institution. But as I am sure will come as no surprise to you, given the insidious cancel culture that has of late permeated our society, most parents are too fearful to speak up.
But speak up you must. There is strength in numbers and I assure you, the numbers are there. Contact the administration and the Board of Trustees and demand an end to the destructive and anti-intellectual claptrap known as antiracism. And if changes are not forthcoming then demand new leadership. For the sake of our community, our city, our country and most of all, our children, silence is no longer an option.