An English teacher at a $52,000-a-year private school in Englewood, New Jersey has quit her job over critical race theory lessons she has branded racist.
Dana Stangel-Plowe, who taught at the Dwight-Englewood School in Bergen County, accused the school of creating a ‘hostile culture of conformity and fear’ in her resignation letter on Tuesday.
Stangel-Plowe said Head of School Rodney De Jarnett told the entire faculty that he would fire everyone if he could to replace them with people of color. She also accused the school of segregating teachers by their skin color – and said students were also made to segregate themselves ‘within the oppressor or oppressed group.’
Her resignation letter was published by the Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism, (FAIR) an organization created to combat critical race theory teachings in school.
The organization said Stangel-Plowe is an ‘award-winning teacher’ and a graduate of Cornell University, as well as a published poet, in highlighting her credentials.
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Dana Stangel-Plowe, who taught at the Dwight-Englewood School in Bergen County, accused the school of creating a ‘hostile culture of conformity and fear’
Stangel-Plowe said Head of School Rodney De Jarnett told the entire faculty that he would fire everyone if he could to replace them with people of color
She also accused the school, pictured, of segregating teachers by their skin color pondered if the school would start to racially segregate its students
‘I became a teacher at Dwight-Englewood because, as a parent, I loved how the school both nurtured and challenged my own children. Today, I am resigning from a job I love because D-E has changed in ways that undermine its mission and prevent me from holding true to my conscience as an educator,’ she wrote.
‘I believe that D-E is failing our students. Over the past few years, the school has embraced an ideology that is damaging to our students’ intellectual and emotional growth and destroying any chance at creating a true community among our diverse population.’
She added: ‘I reject the hostile culture of conformity and fear that has taken hold of our school.’
Stangel-Plowe claimed that the school’s ideology requires students to see themselves ‘not as individuals, but as representatives of a group, forcing them to adopt the status of privilege or victimhood.’
‘They must locate themselves within the oppressor or oppressed group, or some intersectional middle where they must reckon with being part-oppressor and part-victim. This theory of power hierarchies is only one way of seeing the world, and yet it pervades D-E as the singular way of seeing the world,’ she wrote.
Stangel-Plowe wrote that her students would arrive in her classroom accepting critical race theory as fact.
‘People born with less melanin in their skin are oppressors, and people born with more melanin in their skin are oppressed. Men are oppressors, women are oppressed, and so on. This is the dominant and divisive ideology that is guiding our adolescent students,’ she wrote.
Stangel-Plowe claimed that critical race theory would hinder her the ability of her students to ‘read, write and think.’
‘I teach students who recoil from a poem because it was written by a man. I teach students who approach texts in search of the oppressor. I teach students who see inequities in texts that have nothing to do with power,’ she wrote.
‘Students have internalized the message that this is the way we read and think about the world, and as a result, they fixate on power and group identity. This fixation has stunted their ability to observe and engage with the full fabric of human experience in our literature.’
Stangel-Plowe added that it was her opinion that the school was failing to teach ‘intellectual curiosity, humility, honesty, reason, and the capacity to question ideas and consider multiple perspectives.’
‘In our school, the opportunity to hear competing ideas is practically non-existent,’ she wrote.
She added: ‘Sadly, the school is leading many to become true believers and outspoken purveyors of a regressive and illiberal orthodoxy.’
‘Understandably, these students have found comfort in their moral certainty, and so they have become rigid and closed-minded, unable or unwilling to consider alternative perspectives,’ she wrote.
‘These young students have no idea that the school has placed ideological blinders on them.’
She said that not all students are ‘true believers’ and claimed that many pretend to agree ‘because of pressure to conform.’
‘I’ve heard from students who want to ask a question but stop for fear of offending someone. I have heard from students who don’t participate in discussions for fear of being ostracized,’ Stangel-Plowe wrote.
Critical race theory teaches that racism is a social construct used to oppress people of color, and that it is present in almost all aspects of everyday life.
Its supporters say the theory helps illuminate the obstacles faced by BIPOC (black, indigenous and people of color) individuals in their everyday lives, that their white counterparts do not have to worry about.
The teaching of critical race theory has become a cultural lightning rod in recent months, particularly when taught in schools. Critics claim it is unnecessary divisive, and teaches young children that they are either victims or oppressors from an early age.
Stangel-Plowe claimed that one student even did not want to finish a personal essay about an experience she had in a foreign country over fears the essay would be racist.
‘In her fear, she actually stopped herself from thinking. This is the very definition of self-censorship,’ Stangel-Plowe wrote.
Stangel-Plowe claimed that in 2019 she tried to ‘introduce positive and constructive alternative views’ but they fell on ‘deaf ears.’
‘You expressed dismay, but I did not hear any follow up from you or other administrators. Since then, the stifling conformity has only intensified,’ she wrote.
‘Last fall, two administrators informed faculty that certain viewpoints simply would not be tolerated during our new ‘race explicit’ conversations with our new ‘anti-racist’ work. They said that no one would be allowed to question the orthodoxy regarding ‘systemic racism.’ The message was clear, and the faculty went silent in response.’
Documents provided by FAIR show the posh school’s teachings on whiteness
Stangel-Plowe added that the faculty members are pervaded by fear and at that the Head of School Rodney De Jarnett told the entire faculty that he would fire everyone if he could to replace them with people of color.
‘During a recent faculty meeting, teachers were segregated by skin color. Teachers who had light skin were placed into a ‘white caucus’ group and asked to ‘remember’ that we are ‘White’ and ‘to take responsibility for [our] power and privilege’,’ she wrote.
‘D-E’s racial segregation of educators, aimed at leading us to rethink of ourselves as oppressors, was regressive and demeaning to us as individuals with our own moral compass and human agency.’
Stangel-Plowe then pondered if the school would start to racially segregate its students.
‘I reject D-E’s essentialist, racialist thinking about myself, my colleagues, and my students,’ she wrote.
‘Neither the color of my skin nor the ‘group identity’ assigned to me by D-E dictates my humanist beliefs or my work as an educator.’
She added: ‘Being told that it does is offensive and wrong, and it violates my dignity as a human being. My conscience does not have a color.’
Joe Algrant, the principal of Dwight-Englewood’s Upper School, told the New York Post that he could not comment on personnel matters.
‘In this case all I can say is that Ms. Stangel-Plowe notified us several months ago that she would not be returning next school year,’ he said.
Multiple other expensive private schools have also hit the headlines in recent months over CRT. Elite Manhattan school Dalton saw some parents hit out at its alleged obsession with critical race theory.
And Grace Church School – another private facility located in NoHo – fired math teacher Paul Rossi after he spoke out against CRT.
Another high-profile critic, banker Andrew Gutmann, announced plans to pull his daughter out of elite Manhattan school Brearley over his concerns with CRT.