The backlash against ‘woke’ ideology on race in New York’s elite private schools is gaining momentum, with more parents coming forward to publicly speak out on the issue.
Following a series of controversies at some of Manhattan’s most expensive public schools, more parents shared their concerns in interviews with the New York Post on Saturday, risking backlash from opponents over the contentious issue.
They say they are concerned with the proliferation of critical race theory (CRT) in the classroom. CRT is a theoretical framework which views society as dominated by white supremacy, and categorizes people as ‘privileged’ or ‘oppressed’ based on their skin color.
Parent Harvey Goldman said he pulled his daughter out of the $43,000-per-year Heschel School after learning that the fourth-grader was being tutored on her ‘white privilege’.
Harvey Goldman and Bion Bartning both pulled their children out of elite New York private schools after learning that they were being taught about their ‘white privilege’
Goldman said he pulled his daughter out of the $43,000-per-year Heschel School (above) and moved the family to Florida to enroll in a free public school
Ariela Dubler, head of Heschel School
Last September, he sent administrators a private letter, which he is now making public for the first time.
‘First and foremost, neither I, nor my child, have ‘white privilege,’ nor do we need to apologize for it,’ Goldman wrote. ‘Suggesting I do is insulting. Suggesting to my nine-year-old child she does is child abuse, not education.’
Goldman told the Post that administrators were ‘arrogant and dismissive’ in response, suggesting he pull his daughter out of the school if he was unsatisfied.
He did, and moved the family to Florida, where his daughter now attends a free public school, which he vetted to ensure CRT was not part of the curriculum. The head of Heschel School is Ariela Dubler.
‘My mother said everyone should speak out about this — but when I said I was going to, she said, ‘I didn’t mean you,” Goldman joked to the Post.
‘But I understand her concerns and I have them, too. These private schools are very powerful and they speak to one another. They want you to toe the line and do as you’re told or else.’
Riverdale Country School parent Bion Bartning was also so upset with the ideologies being taught there that he pulled his children out of the $54,000-a-year school.
Riverdale Country School parent Bion Bartning was so upset with the ideologies being taught there that he pulled his children out of the $54,000-a-year school (above)
Bartning then went a step further, founding the Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism (FAIR) to fight back against what he calls a dangerous new ‘orthodoxy’.
Bartning, who is Mexican and Yaqui on one side and Jewish on the other, said he was shocked to learn that schoolchildren are being forced to label themselves as privileged or oppressed by skin color.
‘I don’t fit into any of those race buckets,’ Bartning told the Post. ‘I think it is wrong to be teaching kids these socially constructed race categories.’
‘It’s a destructive ideology, teaching children to be pessimistic and full of grievance rather than being optimistic and full of gratitude. It goes against all the values I was raised with, and there are many out there who feel as I do,’ he said.
Bartning said he had even encountered instances of children being given color palettes to match with their skin tone to assess their level of privilege.
Some public school parents have also joined the growing movement opposed to CRT. Maud Maron, a City Council candidate with four children in local public schools, slammed so-called anti-racist philosophy, as CRT is often branded.
‘It’s a really divisive, ugly orthodoxy and it’s a multi-million dollar industry as well,’ Maron told The Post. ‘It’s also very insidious because on the face of it, who wouldn’t want to sign up to be less racist?’
Maud Maron (left), a City Council candidate, and her campaign co-chair, Yiatin Chu (right), are public school parents in Manhattan, but have similar concerns
Maron’s campaign co-chair, Yiatin Chu, says she has been vilified for speaking out against CRT.
‘I’ve been called a ‘Karen’ and they’ve tried to pressure me into not speaking up,’ Chu told The Post.
‘It can be very stressful, physically, emotionally and mentally. It feels like a mob is descending on you and calling you a racist for fighting for the kind of education you want for all children. it’s really nasty. I’ve seen it ruin lives.’
On Wednesday, Melissa Chen, an advisory board member at FAIR, told Fox News that children are ‘being taught a very cynical, intolerant, kind of new racist orthodoxy’ in schools that ‘forces everyone to see each other by their immutable characteristics’ such as by the color of their skin.
She called for education institutions to go back to Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of ‘judging people on the content of their character and not by the color of their skin’.
The backlash come in the wake of a growing number of controversies at elite NYC prep schools where some parents and teachers have complained about the antiracism ideology being taught to children.
In one incident, math teacher Paul Rossi was ‘relieved of his teaching duties’ at the $57,000-a-year Grace Church School in Manhattan after he penned an essay accusing the school of indoctrinating students last week.
On Tuesday Rossi released a recorded phone call in which the head of the school George Davison admitted to him that ‘we’re demonizing white people for being born.’
In one incident, math teacher Paul Rossi (above) was ‘relieved of his teaching duties’ at the $57,000-a-year Grace Church School in Manhattan after he penned an essay accusing the school of indoctrinating students last week
FAIR has publicly said it stands behind ousted teacher Rossi and was first to leak the phone call between him and the head teacher on its social media accounts Tuesday.
Former New York Times op-ed editor Weiss also published Rossi’s initial blog post on her newsletter last week and then hosted a Zoom discussion Tuesday with Rossi and parent Andrew Gutmann – who had complained about efforts to ‘brainwash’ his daughter at another elite NYC school The Brearley School.
In Wednesday’s interview, Chen slammed CRT ideology as a ‘new racist orthodoxy’ that causes children to question if they are the oppressed or the oppressor because of their skin race.
‘They are being taught a very cynical, intolerant, kind of new racist orthodoxy that forces everyone to see each other – students really – by their immutable characteristics,’ she said.
‘So by their skin color, their gender, their sexual orientation. And it’s very harmful, it pits them against each other. It assigns moral values. Are you an oppressor or are you the oppressed?
‘Just purely based on skin color and that’s what we’re seeing with this language about demonizing white children because they are born oppressors.’
Chen said this is ‘harrowing’ that children are being taught this.
She cited several schools mired in controversy recently as some parents and teachers have questioned their approaches to anti-racism.
Because these schools are the ‘elite of the elite’, Chen said these teachings are being taught to children likely to go on to become the future leaders of the country and top institutions.
‘We’ve had several high profile cases already – you know Dalton school, Riverdale school this is happening at Grace Church school,’ she said.