Another educator risks his job by objecting to mandatory and ideologically narrow diversity training

April 13, 2021 • 1:15 pm

Bari Weiss has a guest writer on her Substack site Common Sense this week: high-school math and philosophy teacher Paul Rossi from Grace Church School in Manhattan, a coeducational private college-prep school that serves students from kindergarten through 12th grade. His topic is the antiracist training he’s required to take, but abhors as harmful, divisive, and above all stifling to students’ ability to think freely and explore ideas. Rossi, still employed at the school, recognizes that by writing this he’s “risking not only my current job but my career as an educator, since most schools, both public and private, are now captive to this backward ideology.” He’s the Jodi Shaw of Grace Church School, and I worry that he’ll suffer the same fate as Shaw: a resignation that’s more or less forced, or, alternatively, outright expulsion if he refuses to sign the school’s agreement that they cooked up for him.

Click on the screenshot to read.

Rossi says he’s more or less forced to “treat students differently on the basis of race” and to discuss their dissents not with other faculty, but with a special “Office of Community Engagement,” which always bats away his objections.  A longish excerpt (read more at Bari’s site) serves to show the problem:

Recently, I raised questions about this ideology at a mandatory, whites-only student and faculty Zoom meeting. (Such racially segregated sessions are now commonplace at my school.) It was a bait-and-switch “self-care” seminar that labelled “objectivity,” “individualism,” “fear of open conflict,” and even “a right to comfort” as characteristics of white supremacy. I doubted that these human attributes — many of them virtues reframed as vices — should be racialized in this way. In the Zoom chat, I also questioned whether one must define oneself in terms of a racial identity at all. My goal was to model for students that they should feel safe to question ideological assertions if they felt moved to do so.

It seemed like my questions broke the ice. Students and even a few teachers offered a broad range of questions and observations. Many students said it was a more productive and substantive discussion than they expected.

However, when my questions were shared outside this forum, violating the school norm of confidentiality, I was informed by the head of the high school that my philosophical challenges had caused “harm” to students, given that these topics were “life and death matters, about people’s flesh and blood and bone.” I was reprimanded for “acting like an independent agent of a set of principles or ideas or beliefs.” And I was told that by doing so, I failed to serve the “greater good and the higher truth.”

He further informed me that I had created “dissonance for vulnerable and unformed thinkers” and “neurological disturbance in students’ beings and systems.” The school’s director of studies added that my remarks could even constitute harassment.

A few days later, the head of school ordered all high school advisors to read a public reprimand of my conduct out loud to every student in the school. It was a surreal experience, walking the halls alone and hearing the words emitting from each classroom: “Events from last week compel us to underscore some aspects of our mission and share some thoughts about our community,” the statement began. “At independent schools, with their history of predominantly white populations, racism colludes with other forms of bias (sexism, classism, ableism and so much more) to undermine our stated ideals, and we must work hard to undo this history.”

Students from low-income families experience culture shock at our school. Racist incidents happen. And bias can influence relationships. All true. But addressing such problems with a call to “undo history” lacks any kind of limiting principle and pairs any allegation of bigotry with a priori guilt. My own contract for next year requires me to “participate in restorative practices designed by the Office of Community Engagement” in order to “heal my relationship with the students of color and other students in my classes.” The details of these practices remain unspecified until I agree to sign.

Can you believe that oath he has to swear to? What is this—the Cultural Revolution? Well, yes, a form of it. Rossi also notes that many students have told him that they’re frustrated at the school’s “indoctrination” but are afraid to speak up against it. They’re never allowed to challenge the tenets of Critical Race Theory in class.

What this does, of course, is to stifle discussion and also to force—nay, brainwash—students into a narrow ideological mindset from which departure is heretical. As a private school in Manhattan, Grace is undoubtedly very expensive and has a lot of smart students. Yet their inquisitiveness and their dissent is being squashed flat.

I’ll add one more excerpt which shows how a “Cultural Revolution” is overtaking this school, as it is with many others:

Every student at the school must also sign a “Student Life Agreement,” which requires them to aver that “the world as we understand it can be hard and extremely biased,” that they commit to “recognize and acknowledge their biases when we come to school, and interrupt those biases,” and accept that they will be “held accountable should they fall short of the agreement.” A recent faculty email chain received enthusiastic support for recommending that we “‘officially’ flag students” who appear “resistant” to the “culture we are trying to establish.”

I expect that soon students will be waving copies of “White Fragility” as they denounce their teachers, who will be forced to wear paper dunce hats and signs around they’re necks—if they’re not fired. Rossi describes his suggestion that Glenn Loury be included among his students’ reading assignments, but that the administration nixed it on the grounds that “the moment were are in institutionally and culturally, does not lend itself to dispassionate discussion and debate.” Apparently, discussing Loury would “confuse and enflame students.”

Can you believe that? The students are denied the chance to learn that black thinkers don’t all agree with each other. But again, that’s the Cultural Revolution, Jake.

You’ll be familiar with Rossi’s description of what is happening, as it’s what’s happening in Smith College, the Dalton School in NYC, and almost every other school where mandatory “diversity training” is instituted.  Pushing back can cost you your job, as Jodi Smith and others have learned. But it’s heartening that people are willing to risk this because they’re committed to a kind of liberalism that unites rather than divides.

Oh hell, I want to reproduce Rossi’s ending as well:

One current student paid me a visit a few weeks ago. He tapped faintly on my office door, anxiously looking both ways before entering. He said he had come to offer me words of support for speaking up at the meeting.

I thanked him for his comments, but asked him why he seemed so nervous. He told me he was worried that a particular teacher might notice this visit and “it would mean that I would get in trouble.” He reported to me that this teacher once gave him a lengthy “talking to” for voicing a conservative opinion in class. He then remembered with a sigh of relief that this teacher was absent that day. I looked him in the eyes. I told him he was a brave young man for coming to see me, and that he should be proud of that.

Then I sent him on his way. And I resolved to write this piece.

At the end of this post, Bari gives an email address where you can write to Rossi expressing support, advice, or commiserating with him if you’re in a similar situation: teachingfortruth@gmail.com

 

h/t: Luana

Unwarranted privilege: America’s elite college-prep schools

March 18, 2021 • 1:00 pm

Caitlin Flanagan, who writes about various aspects of education and culture for The Atlantic (check out her article “Meghan Markle Didn’t Do the Work“), used to teach at a ritzy private school in L.A.: the Harvard-Westlake School. (Have a look at their “notable alumni“!) She draws on her experiences there for her latest article, whose title doesn’t pull any punches. Click on the screenshot to read.

The private schools she’s writing about are “college prep” schools, and not just any college prep school, but those who try to provide students with a moving walkway to elite colleges like Harvard and Princeton—and beyond. Her point is that these schools are obscene in just about every way: in their bloated tuition, in their incessant demands for money beyond tuition, in the cowering of the administration to rich parents and donors, to the arrogance and racism of their students, and to the obsessive concentration on getting into the right school and getting the right grades to do that. (An A-minus on an assignment is apparently enough to bring angry parents bulling their way into the teacher’s office.)  And talk about privilege! Attending one of these places (tuition runs abut $50,000 per year, the same as an Ivy League college), puts you on the fast track:

These schools surround kids who have every possible advantage with a literal embarrassment of riches—and then their graduates hoover up spots in the best colleges. Less than 2 percent of the nation’s students attend so-called independent schools. But 24 percent of Yale’s class of 2024 attended an independent school. At Princeton, that figure is 25 percent. At Brown and Dartmouth, it is higher still: 29 percent.

The numbers are even more astonishing when you consider that they’re not distributed evenly across the country’s more than 1,600 independent schools but are concentrated in the most exclusive ones—and these are our focus here. In the past five years, Dalton has sent about a third of its graduates to the Ivy League. Ditto the Spence School. Harvard-Westlake, in Los Angeles, sent 45 kids to Harvard alone. Noble and Greenough School, in Massachusetts, did even better: 50 kids went on to Harvard.

. . . By the time their kids get to the upper grades, parents want teachers, coaches, and counselors entirely focused on helping them create a transcript that Harvard can’t resist. “This kind of parent has an idea of the outcome they want; in their work life they can get it,” Evans told me. “They’re surrounded by employees; they can delegate things to their staff.” In their eyes, teachers are staff. But the teachers don’t work for them.

And if you go to these places, you have an advantage that persists will beyond college admission:

All of this preparation doesn’t just help private-school kids get into elite colleges; it allows them to dominate once they get there. Over the past decade, O’Connor reported, two-thirds of Princeton’s Rhodes Scholars (excluding international students) came from private schools. So did two-thirds of the winners of the prestigious Sachs Scholarship, which provides two graduating students the opportunity to work, study, or travel abroad. Forty-seven percent of the winners of “class legacy prizes”—academic awards given to students in each class—attended private schools. This is why wealthy parents think it’s life-and-death to get their kids into the right prep school—because they know that the winners keep winning.

Flanagan recounts some horrific stories of parents badgering teachers, lying in wait for them outside their offices, calling them on the phone repeatedly, and so on.  I suppose they see the massive tuition as an entitlement to ensure that their kids get into the right schools. And if you donate money to the schools (“campaigns” for more bucks are incessant), you get better treatment as a parent, and—the worst part—your kid gets treated better as well. As Flanagan says, “Its not unreasonable for a big donor to expect preferential treatment for his or her child. And it’s not unusual for him to get it.”

Flanagan reviews the situation at a few other elite schools, like the toxic meltdown at The Dalton School in New York City that I’ve described before. She also describes convincing evidence of racism directed at the few black students, examples that make these schools even more obscene.

What’s the cure? Well, you could say “get rid of these schools”, but that would mean getting rid of private schools in general. While that’s an ideal, it’s not gonna fly—not so long as parents have money, local schools are crummy, and parents want their children educated in a religious school. But drastic improvements in public schools would help, for many parents send their kids to these schools because public-school education is not a viable alternative:

We have become a country with vanishingly few paths out of poverty, or even out of the working class. We’ve allowed the majority of our public schools to founder, while expensive private schools play an outsize role in determining who gets to claim a coveted spot in the winners’ circle. Many schools for the richest American kids have gates and security guards; the message is you are precious to us. Many schools for the poorest kids have metal detectors and police officers; the message is you are a threat to us.

Public-school education—the specific force that has helped generations of Americans transcend the circumstances of their birth—is profoundly, perhaps irreparably, broken. In my own state of California, only half of public-school students are at grade level in reading, and even fewer are in math. When a crisis goes on long enough, it no longer seems like a crisis. It is merely a fact.

Shouldn’t the schools that serve poor children be the very best schools we have?

You betcha!

Although a reader extolled the article as being very well written, I found it so-so. It’s a bit discursive, leaping from topic to topic, and there some attempts to inject flippancy or breeziness into the text that don’t work. Still, if you want an idea how elite (i.e., rich) Americans are educated, this is a good place to start.

Bari Weiss on the toxicity of American private schools (and her readers’ pushback)

March 17, 2021 • 11:00 am

It’s gotten to the point that I can’t bear to keep describing the wokeness metastasizing through the body of American’s public and private schools, and I’m not even referring to colleges. Since I’ve described this in extenso, I’ll just point you to this free article by Bari Weiss, who interviewed over two dozen parents, students, and teachers at private prep schools—schools that charge up to $50,000 a year in tuition, which is Ivy League money. Click on the screenshot to read her piece, which was first published in the City Journal:

Why worry about this? Because these affluent and well-educated students, once dosed up with propaganda, will of course go on to become America’s leaders.

I’ll give just two quotes relevant to STEM.

“I am in a cult. Well, that’s not exactly right. It’s that the cult is all around me and I am trying to save kids from becoming members.” He sounds like a Scientology defector, but he is a math teacher at one of the most elite high schools in New York City. He is not politically conservative. “I studied critical theory; I saw Derrida speak when I was in college,” he says, “so when this ideology arrived at our school over the past few years, I recognized the language and I knew what it was. But it was in a mutated form.”

This teacher is talking with me because he is alarmed by the toll this ideology is taking on his students. “I started seeing what was happening to the kids. And that’s what I couldn’t take. They are being educated in resentment and fear. It’s extremely dangerous.”

. . . and this:

The science program at Fieldston would make any parent swoon. The electives for 11th- and 12th-graders, according to the school’s website, include immunology, astronomy, neuroscience, and pharmacology.

But physics looks different these days. “We don’t call them Newton’s laws anymore,” an upperclassman at the school informs me. “We call them the three fundamental laws of physics. They say we need to ‘decenter whiteness,’ and we need to acknowledge that there’s more than just Newton in physics.”

One of her classmates says that he tries to take “the fact classes, not the identity classes.” But it’s gotten harder to distinguish between the two. “I took U.S. history and I figured when you learn about U.S. history maybe you structure it by time period or what happened under each presidency. We traced different marginalized groups. That was how it was structured. I only heard a handful of the presidents’ names in class.”

It goes on, and it’s pretty depressing.

Now, like Andrew Sullivan, Weiss is publishing her readers’ reactions to her column. This one, which just came out, has both positive and negative views of the situation. Click on the screenshot:

One objection, as you can gather from the title, is this:  why should we bother with how these fancy private schools operate? I gave one response above. Weiss gives another: public schools (Los Angeles is a good example) are going the exact same route.

Another query was why these rich and powerful parents don’t put their foot down about their children’s education. There’s no clear answer, but I suspect that it’s easier to get along if you go along, and these schools are often gateways for admission to America’s best colleges.  Some readers thought Weiss exaggerated the problem, others worried about how biracial children would fare in such schools, and one raised the issue that it’s hard to judge a school’s wokeness before you enroll you child.

If you want an example of how one ritzy school has melted down, check out my post on The Dalton School in Manhattan (tuition: $54,000 per year).

More segregation in secondary schools

March 15, 2021 • 1:30 pm

Moses Brown School is a Quaker school in Providence, Rhode Island, serving students from pre-kindergarten through high school (12th grade). It’s my experience that Quakers are particularly susceptible to Wokeness, perhaps because they are eclectic and dedicated to service: traits that are normally great but can easily be bent toward the interests of Critical Social Justice.

At Moses Brown, this seems to be what has happened. Here’s a tweet from a former teacher who writes about education at Substack:

I have no opinion about the legality of this, though lawyers might. If true, it’s invidious, but we have to take this with a grain of salt, for it’s hearsay. Sanzi says she’s been told of the incident above “by more than one parent”, though nobody dares to speak out.

What is not at issue, however, is that the school, in having the upper-school students read the antiracist young adult novel The Hate U Give, about a black teenager’s reaction to a police shooting of her boyfriend and her increasing activism, is promoting segregation in learning.

The novel is a popular read for entire schools, and that is fine, but what’s not fine is dividing up the school into two racially distinct groups to discuss the book. As the letter below from school officials shows, they divided up the discussion into two “affinity spaces [using] framing that is appropriate for the BIPOC or White-identifying experience.” (Note one of the signers has the title of “Facilitator of Conversations about White Privilege and Allyship, already a signal of Critical Race Theory at Work.)

Here’s the school’s letter to upper school (presumably high school) families:

In the next three sessions, white kids discuss the novel from the point of view of “white saviorism, performative activism, and allyship” as well as “learning about the history of policing in the United States and its connection to police brutality against Black students today.”

BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) students, on the other hand, also learn about white saviorism, performative activism and allyship in one session, but then devote the other two sessions to breakout room discussions about topic proposed and facilitated by students.

In other words, although there are certain themes in common to the two “affinity groups”, they are handling the book differently, with no communication between the groups. Worst of all, there seems to be no plan to have white, blacks, and other minorities discuss the book together.

This is not a good way to educate students: forcing them to join others with similar pigmentation (except for the poor half Asian student) and then having race-specific discussions. When do black and white kids get to talk to each other? They don’t! Each “race” has five sessions with members of their group alone (white and BIPOC). And what this does is to simply divide up the school, and the students’ views, by race. It does not foster mutuality, fellow feeling, or the highly-touted but always neglected idea of “inclusion.” The worst way to overcome racism is to keep the races apart and allow each one to develop their ideas in isolation from the others. But of course we must realize that this bizarre form of separation is not intended to end racism. It is, ironically, “performative activism.”

What are euphemistically called “affinity spaces”, a term reeking of inclusion, are what used to be called “segregated spaces.”  Such is the madness that is afflicting our schools.

h/t: Luana

California ethnic studies curriculum distorts history to conform to Critical Race Theory

February 1, 2021 • 9:30 am

The tweet from Bari Weiss below may exaggerate a tad when it says that the proposed California Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC), a required course for 6 million California public high-school students ordered by the governor, is the most important story in the Jewish world this month.

But the story is extremely important for two reasons.

First, the curriculum is not just a denigration of Jews and Israel, as well as the elevation of the BSD movement, but also a denigration of the earlier civil rights movement, downplaying nonviolent methods of Dr. King and the advances of the Sixties, and emphasizing instead the Black Lives Matter movement (see below for an objection from Civil Rights icon and MLK advisor Clarence Jones).  The lesson for Jews, though, is that California will soon be in the business of casting them as oppressors, so young people will get a formal lesson on the demonization of Israel and the glorification of the oppressed Palestinians. Jewish high-school students in California are in for a bad time—and worse when they get to college.

And that underscores the second reason this plan is odious: it’s infused with Critical Race Theory (CRT) and the oppression narrative, which will promote identity politics and set the groups in multiracial California against one another. I have no objection to ethnic studies per se: after all, 40% of California students are members of minority groups. But this plan in particular uses ethnic diversity to construct and emphasize a hierarchy of power and push the narrative of White Toxicity. And of course since California has more students than any other state save Texas, its recommendations will undoubtedly be adopted by other states. We will have an entire generation educated to either be inculcated with guilt for what their ancestors did, or be inculcated with resentment for having ancestors that were oppressed. In other words, the curriculum is designed to produce a Woke Generation.

If you don’t believe me, read the two stories below, one from Tablet and the other from Jewish Journal (no, you won’t find this in many liberal papers), or access the curriculum at these three sites.

 

and this from Jewish Journal:

Some excerpts from Tablet. Note that some aspects of the original curriculum have been changed, but I’ll have to take the word of these two sources, as the documents are scattered all over the place.

[In 2019], when the first draft of the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC) was released, Kaplan [Elina Kaplan, California tech manager with two children] couldn’t believe what she was reading. In one sample lesson, she saw that a list of historic U.S. social movements—ones like Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, Criminal Justice Reform—also included the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement for Palestine (BDS), described as a “global social movement that currently aims to establish freedom for Palestinians living under apartheid conditions.” Kaplan wondered why a foreign movement, whose target was another country, would be mischaracterized as a domestic social movement, and she was shocked that in a curriculum that would be taught to millions of students, BDS’s primary goal—the elimination of Israel—was not mentioned. Kaplan also saw that the 1948 Israel War of Independence was only referred to as the “Nakba”—“catastrophe” in Arabic—and Arabic verses included in the sample lessons were insulting and provocative to Jews.

Kaplan, 53, a Bay Area mother of two grown children who describes herself as a lifelong Democrat, was further surprised to discover that a list of 154 influential people of color did not include Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, or Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, though it included many violent revolutionaries. There was even a flattering description of Pol Pot, the communist leader of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge, who was responsible for the murder of a quarter of the Cambodian population during the 1970s.

Oy! Apartheid again, and, as usual, totally deceptive. And Pol Pot! But wait! There’s more! The whole plan was full of CRT jargon, propaganda, and implicit calls for activism:

Kaplan began calling friends. “Have you read this?” she asked, urging them to plow through the 600-page document. The language was bewildering. “Ethnic Studies is about people whose cultures, hxrstories, and social positionalities are forever changing and evolving. Thus, Ethnic Studies also examines borders, borderlands, mixtures, hybridities, nepantlas, double consciousness, and reconfigured articulations. …” This was the telltale jargon of critical race theory, a radical doctrine that has swept through academic disciplines during the last few decades.

I had to look up “nepantlas“, which I thought were trousers.

. . . The new curriculum, which will eventually be promulgated throughout the California school system of 6 million children, would “critique empire and its relationship to white supremacy, racism, patriarchy, cisheteropatriarchy, capitalism, ableism … and other forms of power and oppression,” according to the proposal. It would “build new possibilities for post-imperial life that promotes collective narratives of transformative resistance.”

Capitalism was classified as a form of “power and oppression,” and although “classism, homophobia, Islamophobia, and transphobia” were also listed as forms of oppression, anti-Semitism was not. Jewish Americans were not even mentioned as a minority group.

It’s not just Jews who are objecting, and I, for one, object much more to the overall narrative of the plan than to its characterization of Jews. Click on the links above to see more. I particularly deplore the downplaying of Dr. King and his associates, and the advances that peaceful civil rights protests made in the Sixties.

Some pushback:

Kaplan wasn’t the only one upset about the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum. Clarence Jones, former legal counsel and speechwriter for Martin Luther King Jr., in a letter he wrote to Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state’s Instructional Quality Commission, called the ESMC a “perversion of history” for providing material that refers to non-violent Black leaders as “passive” and “docile.” Jones, who is co-founder of the University of San Francisco Institute for Nonviolence and Social Justice, decried the “glorification” of violence and Black nationalism as “role models for the students,” and rejected the curriculum as “morally indecent and deeply offensive.”

The unassailably liberal LA Times editorial board weighed in, criticizing the offering as “an impenetrable mélange of academic jargon and politically correct pronouncements” that served as an “exercise in groupthink, designed to proselytize and inculcate more than to inform and open minds.” It warned it was “in bad need of an overhaul.”

Here’s an excerpt from Jones’s letter:

And from the editorial from the entire Los Angeles Times Editorial Board, a paper that is of course on the Left, criticizing the ESMC as “an exercise in groupthink”.

We have no objection to a course that broadens students’ thinking about race and gender and sexuality and history and power. But too often the proposed ethnic studies curriculum feels like an exercise in groupthink, designed to proselytize and inculcate more than to inform and open minds. It talks about critical thinking but usually offers one side and one side only.

. . .Similarly, there’s a suggested list of social movements that students might research — but here again, the curriculum feels awfully one-sided. There’s nothing wrong with students studying the Black Panther Party or the Third World Liberation Front or the Occupy Movement or the Palestinian-led BDS movement. But what happened to studying a range of ideas, reflecting a variety of ideologies and perspectives, and having students take sides, dispute and debate those ideas, honing their research and thinking in the process, and ultimately deciding for themselves? This curriculum feels like it is more about imposing predigested political views on students than about widening their perspectives. [JAC: that’s because it is!]

Among other things, the model curriculum lists capitalism with white supremacy and racism as “forms of power and oppression.” OK, but shouldn’t students also hear arguments that capitalism has allowed for an expansion over time of the middle class, or even from those who believe in a laissez-faire, sink-or-swim economy.

And isn’t it possible that some students won’t agree with the curriculum’s assertion that BDS is a social movement “whose aim is to achieve freedom through equal rights and justice.” Does that perhaps merit further debate?

The governor signed this against the recommendations of the Cal State system’s chancellor, board of trustees, and academic senate, all of whom did not oppose ethnic studies courses, but objected to the state forcing a specified and standardizes curriculum down their throat.

And yes, there have been revisions, but they’re pretty dire. Moreover, the curriculum itself notes that “additional counselors will be required to help students deal with the trauma of the new content.” Trauma! You know what that means: the curriculum is designed to upset students.

Here are two more excerpts about the source of the curriculum and a few changes that have been made after citizen’s comments (you can still comment here until March 17):

Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, director of AMCHA Initiative, which fights campus anti-Semitism, points out that all 13 founding members of the Critical Ethnic Studies Association (CESA) are BDS activists. CESA, the national home base for critical studies, passed a resolution to boycott all Israeli academic institutions in 2014, and the group’s past four biennial meetings included multiple sessions demonizing Israel. “There are a couple thousand academic boycotters of Israel in the country,” she said, “and the largest percentage of them come from ethnic studies. Anti-Zionism is built into the theory and the discipline of ethnic studies, which demonizes Israel as an apartheid settler-colonialist Nazi state.”

. . . . To placate critics, the third version has added lessons about Korean Americans, Armenian Americans, and Sikhs. Two lessons have been offered about Jews. One, following crude CRT dogma, teaches that Mizrahi Jews coming to the United States from Arab lands were mistreated by “white” Ashkenazim. The other suggests that Jews of European descent have white privilege.

The Jewish Journal points out that Jews are the only group in the curriculum for whom the term “privilege” is used. And this privilege is not earned by way of talent, or educational and professional attainment, but rather trickery. The ESMC, echoing Nazi propaganda about Jews as impostors and appropriators hiding in plain sight, points out that American Jews often change their names (“this practice of name-changing continues to the present day”) to change their rank in the social hierarchy.

What the hell? If this isn’t anti-Semitism, it’s rubbing elbows with it.  Well, this is going to happen, and California students can expect to be set against one another in class.

But it’s not just California. Get a load of what’s going down in Seattle:

Meanwhile, the city of Seattle has already created a proposed framework for implementing ethnic studies throughout its K-12 curriculum. Math teachers will ask the following questions: “identify how math has been and continues to be used to oppress and marginalize people and communities of color,” “analyze the ways in which ancient mathematical knowledge has been appropriated by Western culture,” “how important is it to be right?” and “Who gets to say if an answer is right?” It appears educational leaders are all for this. The president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Robert Q. Berry III, told Education Week: “What they’re doing follows the line of work we hope we can move forward as we think about the history of math and who contributes to that, and also about deepening students’ connection with identity and agency.”

This is happening everywhere, including, of course, colleges. The major thrust of education now seems to be not learning itself, but promoting social engineering along the lines of CRT. The wave seems unstoppable unless people like us, unafraid of being tarred with the inevitable label of “racist”, object to the propagandizing of society—and especially of children.

A ritzy private secondary school in NYC melts down—with the usual causes and usual demands

December 22, 2020 • 12:00 pm

It looks as if the ritzy private secondary schools are beginning to take their behavioral cues from the ritzy private universities like Swarthmore, Yale, Princeton, and Haverford. In this case the ritzy private venue is the Dalton School in Manhattan, a high-class college prep school on the upper East Side. At Dalton, tuition is about the same as at the Ivy-League colleges (Dalton students pay $54,180 per year for tuition, and live at home). It’s also progressive and, as Wikipedia says, “is known for the diversity of its staff and students.”

What’s going on at Dalton, though, is in some ways worse than what’s happening at places like the Ivies, because the students’ parents, who want some return for their money, are threatening to pull their students out of the school after the latest fracas, which started when the school decided to go all-virtual last semester. Other fancy private schools, which abound in New York City, are still holding live classes, and Dalton parents don’t want to pay $54K per year to have their kids sit in front of computers. (The school goes from kindergarten through grade 12, which is 13 years, for a total of at least $650,000 for a full ride.)

Further, since the school is now in the process of meeting the protestors’ demands, the quality of education will also drop, and parents send their kids to Dalton so they can get into a really good college. That won’t happen if Dalton’s reputation suffers (as is already happening), and if the school lowers the standards for achievement (which the protestors want).

But let’s back up. Why are there protests at Dalton? These are well summarized in several pieces. The best one is from the website The Naked Dollar, but there are shorter pieces at  Bloomberg News and The New York Post. Otherwise, you’ll have to go to right-wing sites. But all the pieces agree about what happened.

The backstory: Because of the pandemic, Dalton decided to shut down this year, with all classes going virtual. The parents got upset and sent a petition to the school asking for re-opening, especially because similar private secondary schools in NYC were open for live classes. Dalton did say they planned to re-open, but that made things really blow up. The faculty and staff argued that re-opening is racist because faculty and staff of color say they have a longer commute than do white teachers and staff, exposing them to greater risks of viral infection. The same is probably true of black and Hispanic students, though there are no data.

A big roster of Dalton’s faculty, staff, and administrators then issued a very long and detailed series of demands, which you can see here. The Naked Dollar link above summarizes the most important ones in the list below (I’ve made a few comments which are flush left):

  • The hiring of twelve (!) full time diversity officers

Actually, the petition demands that the school “expand the office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to include up to 12 full-time positions”. Since there’s already an office with some staff, that doesn’t mean twelve new officers. Still, 12 full-time officers is a big staff for a school that has just 1300 students.

  • An additional full time employee whose “entire role is to support Black students who come forward with complaints.”
  • Hiring of multiple psychologists with “specialization on the psychological issues affecting ethnic minority populations.”
  • Pay off student debt of incoming black faculty
  • Re-route 50% of all donations to NYC public schools

This is a really sore point with donors and trustees, as well as with parents. It means that if you donate a lot of money to the school, half of it will immediately go into a fund for New York Public Schools. You have no choice about this, which means that if you want to support just Dalton itself, you have to give twice the amount of money you planned to give. This requirement only kicks in if, by 2025, Dalton’s study body is not “representative of New York City in terms of gender, race, socioeconomic background and immigration status”.

  • Elimination of AP courses if black students don’t score as high as white

These are called “leveled courses” at Dalton, and it’s true that if, by 2023, “membership and performance of Black students are not at parity with non-Black students, leveled courses should be abolished.” This makes no sense to me at all, for it gives sole responsibility to the faculty to achieve that equity, despite any disadvantages black students may come in with due to their backgrounds. In other words, it punishes everyone and achieves nothing useful.

  • Required courses on “Black liberation”
  • Reduced tuition for black students whose photographs appear in school promotional materials
  • Public “anti-racism” statements required from all employees

They also require that no faculty can be hired without submitting a “diversity statement”

  • Mandatory “Community and Diversity Days” to be held “throughout the year”
  • Required anti-bias training to be conducted every year for all staff and parent volunteers
  • Mandatory minority representation in (otherwise elected) student leadership roles
  • Mandatory diversity plot lines in school plays
  • Overhaul of entire curriculum to reflect diversity narratives

The list is even more comprehensive than lists tendered by college protestors at places like Haverford and Swarthmore, and is especially ironic because, as the author of the website above says (their emphasis),

. . .Dalton has long been one of the most progressive schools in the country. They have actively encouraged the sort of thinking that is now biting them in the ass. And the obvious irony is that if Dalton is “systemically racist,” a belief they themselves promote, it is progressives who bear the responsibility.

When progressive institutions embrace revolutionary ideologies, as Dalton has done, they fail to appreciate that the revolution comes for them first. The scaffolding is being built on East 89th street.

Well, I don’t know that much about Dalton, but there are lots of alternative private college-prep schools in the area, and some predict that as many as 30% of students may be pulled out of Dalton by disaffected parents. What’s worse is that, like Evergreen State, Dalton’s reputation may suffer permanent damage from both dilution of standards and the hegemony of the protestors, and, like Evergreen, Dalton’s input of money could be seriously reduced, leading to layoff of faculty and staff.

Here’s a photo of “Big Dalton,” the building housing facilities for grades 4-12 (photo from Wikipedia):

A frenzy of school renaming in store for San Francisco

October 25, 2020 • 9:30 am

Forty-four public schools in San Francisco have been advised that their names are polluted by association with slavery, colonization, oppression, genocide, abuse, or homophobia, and are likely to have their names changed late this year. This, of course, is part of the nationwide frenzy of renaming anything named after someone who offends the Woke. Now perhaps some renaming might be in order, but in this case the names scheduled for erasure include those of Abraham Lincoln, Roosevelt (not sure whether Teddy or FDR), James Monroe, Herbert Hoover, George Washington and even Dianne Feinstein (one of California’s progressive Senators), for crying out loud.  I’ll give some of the rationales for renaming below.

The whole story appears in the San Francisco Chronicle, which you can access by clicking on the screenshot below. If you’re paywalled, judicious inquiries might yield you a copy.

The S.F. school board has been pondering name changes for a while, and the superintendent appointed 12 “community members” to a committee to decide which names had to go (the committee also includes the school board president and district staff members. They started their work in January, and the afflicted schools were just informed that they had to provide a list of alternative school names by December 18. The changes—and I’m betting all will be made—will occur in January or February. The schools will probably be closed then, as they are now due to the pandemic.

The cost? Well, they have to change the signs the stationary, and other stuff, so estimates are that for each school the costs will be in the “tens of thousands of dollars”, so the total cost could run over half a million dollars. But that’s cheap to fix racism and oppression, right?

How the committee members did their research. (All quotes are indented.)

[The committee] was formed in January and has since met 10 times, with members doing their own research, looking at newspaper articles, among other resources to identify whether the name on a school met the criteria for renaming. . . .

Officials from five high school alumni associations criticized the process, saying the committee did not consult professional historians or diverse ethnic communities.

“We need an inclusive process that will allow all communities to be heard, use professional historians applying verifiable data, issue a written report why a school name might be changed, so the community can make a considered decision,” said the alumni association presidents from Balboa, Galileo, Lincoln, Lowell and Washington high schools in a letter to district officials last week.

The criteria for renaming:

The San Francisco School Names Advisory Committee researched school names and identified them for renaming if they met any of the following criteria:

Anyone directly involved in the colonization of people.
Slave owners or participants in enslavement.
Perpetrators of genocide or slavery.
Those who exploit workers/people.
Those who directly oppressed or abused women, children, queer or transgender people.
Those connected to any human rights or environmental abuses.
Those who are known racists and/or white supremacists and/or espoused racist beliefs.

Criteria like “involvement in colonization” or “connected to human rights or environmental abuses” or “exploitation of workers/people” are literally begging for application, and indeed, the list of miscreants whose names will be replaced include the following (I’ll give the reasons if they’re in the article). And, of course, there’s no consideration that morality has changed over time, so we’re judging many people on the list below by standards that weren’t in force when they lived.

But one person who wasn’t erased: Thomas Edison was almost cut because he supposedly euthanized Topsy the Elephant to test the power of electrocution. Granted, that was a horrible thing to do, but in fact there’s no clear connection between Edison and the inhumane execution. At least they caught that one.

The list of names scheduled to go:

Balboa High School, Spanish explorer Vasco Nunez de Balboa
Abraham Lincoln High School, U.S. president

Abraham Lincoln High is also on the list, based on the former president’s treatment of American Indian and native peoples.

Mission High School, Mission Dolores
George Washington High School, first U.S. president
Lowell High School, poet/critic James R. Lowell [see below; he appears to have been an abolitionist]
James Denman Middle School, founder of first S.F. school
Everett Middle School, Edward Everett, American statesman
Herbert Hoover Middle School, U.S. president
James Lick Middle School, land baron
Presidio Middle School S.F. military post

see below

Roosevelt Middle School, Theodore or F.D., both U.S. presidents
Lawton K-8, U.S. Army officer Henry Ware Lawton
Claire Lilienthal (two sites), S.F. school board member
Paul Revere K-8, American Revolution patriot
Alamo Elementary, a poplar tree or the site of Texas Revolution battle
Alvarado Elementary, Pedro de Alvarado, conquistador
Bryant Elementary, author Edwin Bryant
Clarendon Elementary Second Community and Japanese Bilingual Bicultural Program, Edward Hyde Earl of Clarendon, English politician
El Dorado Elementary, mythical City of Gold

El Dorado Elementary came up next for discussion, with board members questioning whether the criteria should apply to a mythological place associated with settlers or colonists.

“The concept of El Dorado, especially in California, had a lot to do with the search of gold, and for the indigenous people that meant the death of them,” said Mary Travis Allen during a September panel meeting. “I don’t think the concept of greed and lust for gold is a concept we want our children to be given.”

While some on the panel questioned whether an imaginary place filled with gold met the criteria for renaming. [sic] “That’s how we justified Mission and Presidio, as places of human rights abuses or environmental abuses,” said Jeremiah Jeffries, saying it was similar to naming a school “Manifest Destiny.”

Dianne Feinstein Elementary, U.S. senator and former S.F. mayor

That work includes a recommendation to change the name of Dianne Feinstein Elementary, a name given by the Board of Education in 2006 when the new school opened.

The school made the list because, as mayor in 1986, Feinstein reportedly replaced a vandalized Confederate flag, one of several historic flags flying in front of City Hall at the time.

Garfield Elementary, James Garfield, U.S. president
Grattan Elementary, William Henry Grattan, Irish author
Jefferson Elementary, Thomas Jefferson, U.S. president
Francis Scott Key Elementary, composer of Star Spangled Banner
Frank McCoppin Elementary, S.F. mayor
McKinley Elementary, William McKinley, U.S. president
Marshall Elementary, James Wilson Marshall, sawmill worker at Sutter’s Mill
Monroe Elementary, James Monroe, U.S. president
John Muir Elementary, naturalist
Jose Ortega Elementary, Spanish philosopher
Sanchez Elementary, Jose Bernardo Sanchez, Spanish missionary
Junipero Serra Elementary, Spanish priest
Sheridan Elementary, Gen. Philip Sheridan
Sherman Elementary, Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman
Commodore Sloat Elementary, John Sloat, Navy officer
Robert Louis Stevenson Elementary, author
Sutro Elementary, Adolph Sutro, S.F. mayor
Ulloa Elementary, Don Antonio de Ulloa, Spanish general
Daniel Webster Elementary, U.S. statesman
Noriega Early Education School, unclear
Presidio EES, S.F. military post

(see above)

Stockton EES, Robert F. Stockton, Navy commodore

Muir has already been canceled by the Sierra Club for making derogatory remarks about black and indigenous people, Washington and Jefferson had slaves, and Monroe opposed the Missouri Compromise’s stipulation that some states be admitted to the Union without slaves. I’m not sure about Roosevelt (it’s probably Teddy), but we’ve seen the supposed (and misinterpreted) evidence of his colonialism before. As for Robert Luis Stevenson, Daniel Webster, Francis Scott Key, William McKinley, Robert Louis Stevenson, Herbert Hoover, and Paul Revere, I can’t be arsed to find out why they’re demonized.  But James R. Lowell appears to have been an abolitionist!

As for taking down Dianne Feinstein’s name because she restored a vandalized Confederate flag 34 years ago, that’s absurd—an insult. It’s the equivalent for penalizing an 18th century Brit for making one derogatory comment about colonized people. (Remember, the “stars and bars” weren’t nearly as demonized in 1986 as they are now.)

It looks as if no amount of good work can overcome something bad that someone did or said, even if it was trivial. But, according to my criterion of keeping a name if it honors someone’s good works, and those good works outweigh the bad, most of the names above should probably stay.

At any rate, the article does discuss some pushback by citizens, but, as we know, these initiatives are unstoppable. All you have to do is find some intimation on Wikipedia that someone said or did something oppressive at least once, and, poof, their names are off the school. It is a frenzy of wokeness, and of course will do absolutely nothing to improve humanity of the comity of different groups. This is what’s known as “performative wokeness”, and is just so much easier than giving minority students equal opportunity. But that, of course, would involve investing far more than the ten thousand dollars or so to simply change the name of a school.  It’s much easier on our pockets to just rename!

Professor “accidentally” gives Nazi salute in class, gets fired

September 24, 2018 • 11:15 am

This article from the New York Times‘s education issue (click on screenshot) tells us once again the degree of political sensitivity in American schools—this time in an elite New York secondary school. It’s a long read, but worth it:

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/09/05/magazine/friends-new-york-quaker-school-ben-frisch-hitler-joke.html

The story in short: a somewhat socially awkward but popular teacher, Ben Frisch, who worked for years at Friends Seminary in Manhattan (a private Quaker school for rich kids), wound up turning an extended arm into what he thought was a joke. But it turned out to be a bad and misconceived joke. As the NYT reports:

Ben Frisch opened his Feb. 14 pre-calculus class at Friends Seminary the same way that he opened all his classes over the course of his 34 years at the private Quaker school in Manhattan: with an invitation to his students to share anything that was on their minds, followed by the gentle ringing of a chime and a long moment of silence. He then introduced the day’s lesson, involving the calculating of angles of depression and elevation. Frisch straightened out his right arm to demonstrate. He lowered it down and then raised it up. Glancing at his arm, now fully extended and pointing slightly upward, Frisch realized something: He was inadvertently pantomiming the Nazi salute. Frisch is a practicing Quaker, but his father was Jewish, and two of his great-grandmothers were killed at Auschwitz. Mortified, he searched for some way to defuse the awkwardness of the moment. And then he said it: “Heil Hitler!”

A few students gasped; others exchanged surprised looks or laughed nervously. Instantly aware that his stab at Mel Brooks-style parody hadn’t landed, Frisch lowered his arm and tried to explain himself, telling his students that it used to be common to make fun of Nazis. Only recently, he said, had such jokes become taboo. He resumed the lesson, and the weird moment seemed to be over.

It wasn’t. Frisch was fired.

Parents’ reaction were somewhat mixed about this, but, as the Times reports, “the overwhelming majority of students, teachers, and alumni disapproved of Frisch’s firing”, though some thought this was “unforgivably offensive.” I don’t think so. It was a hamhanded attempt to make a joke out of a weird gesture, and it backfired. Frisch even apologized, but it wasn’t enough. And the fact that his father was Jewish and two relatives were killed in the Holocaust didn’t matter. Bo Lauder, head of the school, who wants to make it the equivalent of Manhattan’s most elite private prep schools, terminated Frisch. Further, he prohibited the students from putting out an issue of their newspaper that defended Frisch, and then fired the editors when they disseminated the issue to the school as a pdf. Lauder’s excuse?

Lauder did not consider the “Heil Hitler” episode a close call. “Personally, I was appalled,” he told me. “I couldn’t imagine, even as a joke — and I grew up watching ‘Hogan’s Heroes’ — that in a class that had nothing to do with history or World War II or Nazism or teaching German language that an incident like that could happen.” I asked Lauder why he felt he needed to go so far as to fire Frisch. “One of our pledges is to make all of our students feel safe,” he replied. “And that is something that I take very, very seriously.”

That no one has accused Frisch of being an anti-Semite was beside the point: His invocation of the Nazi salute in a classroom full of high school students, regardless of his intentions, was enough to end his career. On today’s campus, words and symbols can be seen as a form of violence; to many people, engaging in a public debate about the nuances of their power is to tolerate their use.

This really is going too far, and abrogates common decency and an empathic understanding of what happened. It isn’t even close to Count Dankula, the Scotsman who trained his girlfriend’s dog to make a “Heil Hitler” salute with his paw when Dankula said “Gas the Jews.” That was deliberate, though a (bad) joke—and I think Dankula, who was convicted, should have been found innocent. But what Frisch did wasn’t even a deliberate joke: just a misfired attempt to turn a gesture into something lighthearted. But these days you don’t use Hitler to be lighthearted.

So kudos to the students, teachers, and parents who are supporting Frisch (see photo below). Although he was fired, Frisch was a member of a teacher’s union, and they’re appealing his suspension.

Some of the supportive students; it’s heartening to see such sentiments in students not yet in college:

BENJAMIN LEVINE, ABRAHAM LEVIN, CAMILO DURR AND MAEVE WOOLLEN, ALL RECENT GRADUATES OF FRIENDS SEMINARY, AT STUYVESANT SQUARE PARK. ELIZABETH BICK FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES

h/t: Grania

 

Australian school bans clapping to protect the noise sensitive, but allows face-pulling, air punching, and silent wriggling

July 22, 2016 • 2:30 pm

I usually end the work week with a cat post, or some cute animal, but this article is pretty funny.

An piece in news.com.au reports that a primary school in Sydney, Australia, in deference to those students who might be sensitive to noise, has issued an edict that there will be NO clapping or cheering at public assemblies.

In its July 18 newsletter, the Elanora school has published an item under the headline “Did you know” that “our school has adopted silent cheers at assembly’s” (sic).

“If you’ve been to a school assembly recently, you may have noticed our students doing silent cheers,” the item reads.

“Instead of clapping, the students are free to punch the air, pull excited faces and wriggle about on the spot.

“The practice has been adopted to respect members of our school community who are sensitive to noise.

“When you attend an assembly, teachers will prompt the audience to conduct a silent cheer if it is needed.

“Teachers have also found the silent cheers to be a great way to expend children’s energy and reduce fidgeting.”

The bit in bold above (my emphasis) makes me laugh out loud—and snort in derision.

As the old Ginsu Knife commercial went, “But wait! There’s more!”:

The ban follows a direction at exclusive Cheltenham Girls High School in northwest Sydney for teachers to avoid discrimination and support LGBTI students by avoiding the words “girls”, “ladies” or “women”.

Teachers were told that if they didn’t support this decision, they’d be considered not only homophobic, but breaking the law.

But wait! There’s still more!! No hugging or handshakes! That’s bad: use knuckle handshakes instead!

Elanora Heights Public School’s ban on clapping in favour of silent cheering comes after several schools have banned hugging.

In April, hugging was banned at a Geelong primary school and children were told to find other ways to show affection.

St Patricks Primary School principal John Grant said “nothing in particular” had caused hugging to be replaced by high fiving or “a knuckle handshake”.

“But in this current day and age we are really conscious about protecting kids and teaching them from a young age that you have to be cautious,” Mr Grant said.

He said he had spoken to teachers about his decision to ban hugging and then the teachers had spoken to classes, instructing the children on different methods of showing affection. He had not sent any correspondence home to parents but said there would now be a letter going home on Monday.

“There’s a range of methods including a high five or a particular knuckle handshake where they clunk knuckles as a simple way of saying ‘well done’,” Mr Grant said. “There are also verbal affirmations and acknowledgments.”

Children at the school have been enthusiastic huggers, he said, with hugs given out to teachers and other children.

“We have a lot of kids who walk up and hug each other and we’re trying to encourage all of us to respect personal space,” Mr Grant said. “It really comes back to not everyone is comfortable in being hugged.”

 

What are we teaching our students when they prohibit them from a spontaneous hug? Does the downside of that (students who don’t want to be hugged) outweigh the upside (bonding between kids)? Are we breeding a generation of adults that can’t show that kind of affection—that will give a knuckle handshake to another person who’s had great news? I myself am somewhat shy about hugging, but when I overcome that tendency and hug a new friend, or someone I’ve known on the Internet for a long time, it always has a good result: bonding or more closeness.

I’m literally shaking and crying right now over Australia’s entrance into the pantheon of the Regressive Left. I can’t even. . .

1360677206_59292a95b74
Obligatory instruction/indoctrination for all new students.

h/t: Greg Mayer