Thursday, April 22, 2021

Woke Wars Update: Grace Church (cont.)




Caught Lying

This has been out there a couple of days, but just in case you missed it, it's a bombshell.

Here's a brief recap what came before. Try to follow along:

  1. Paul Rossi, a middle school math teacher at Grace, blows the whistle by going public with an expose on neo-racist Critical Race Theory run amuck at Grace (after trying and failing internally).
  2. Headmaster George Davison says Rossi shouldn't come to school this week for "his own protection."
  3. Then he says don't come for the school's protection.
  4. Then he says don't bother ever coming back, and don't even come in the building for any reason.
  5. Then Davison sends a school-wide letter which is highly critical of Rossi and says he made "glaring omissions and inaccuracies."
  6. Rossi responds with a letter of his own, relating that in a private conversation between them Davison was sympathetic to some of the points Rossi was making, in particular that they were "demonizing" white children. 
  7. Davison accuses Rossi of lying, saying he never made these statements.

And here's the update:

Rossi knew he had to protect himself, so he recorded* the conversation with Davison. Sure enough, Davison said, word for word, what Rossi said he did.

Davison lied.

My question for Davison is this:

You apparently know, on some level, that all this is insane. You are retiring at the end of the year. And yet, even you didn't stand up to the madness. Why? 

I'm not a lawyer, but it strikes me Rossi has grounds for both a wrongful termination suit (when he is formally fired) and a defamation suit.

I hope it happens.

*Note that this is perfectly legal in New York State.

Monday, April 19, 2021

NYC Private School Madness - Grace Church Edition


This is almost hard to keep up with. Dalton must be so happy they're not the only school that looks foolish right now.

About Grace Church. 


Paul Rossi

You will recall that a middle school math teacher there named Paul Rossi reached his boiling point last week and went public with Grace's DEI and CRT-driven insanity. You can read it here

First, the school said, "of course we won't fire you."

Then they said, "maybe you'd better stay home, you know, for you own safety." 

Safety from whom? Were the fifth graders planning some sort of attack? Or perhaps the lunch lady? Paul said he was willing to take the risk.

So then they said, "Actually, you should just stay home for our safety."

Did they discover that Paul was bringing nunchucks to school?


George Davison

Then just yesterday, the headmaster, George Davison, sent out a letter condemning Paul, saying his missive contains "glaring omissions and inaccuracies," without saying what those were. (They never do. See: the Brearley School.) 

And yes, Paul was all but fired. "It is clear to me that Paul cannot be an effective teacher at Grace any more," says Davison. He can't even enter the building after teaching there for many years. Because he might say something random and offensive like, "I think we should be blind to skin color." People could get hurt.

You can read the Davison's execrable letter here.

Of course, Paul knew this would happen. Woke justice is swift indeed. I have spoken to him many times. He loved his job, and he didn't want to leave, but he felt he had to do the right thing, to say something.

This is a modern day tragedy, wrapped in a farce.

Does everyone realize what's at stake here? Our finest schools are now marching in lockstep to a perverse, cult-like ideology, one that alleges to fight racism but is, itself, deeply racist. Dissent is not tolerated.

Everyone who enables this, from the board members to the parents who stay silent (and even write checks) should be ashamed.

But Paul, God Bless him, will not go quietly. He has written a response, and here it is:


Dear George, I am writing in response to the letter that you sent over the weekend to my colleagues. Grace’s public story — the story it is telling to the press and to its own community — has been very different from what you have told me. In light of your statement that my essay “contains glaring omissions and inaccuracies,” and in support of those who will inevitably be scared into silence by seeing the price I am now paying for speaking up, I am compelled to share what you have told me in our previous conversations.

In the letter, you reaffirm that Grace’s “commitment to antiracism is consistent with our identity and mission” and that “it has been at the heart of our work for years.” 

I believe that you share my desire to ensure that racism does not mar the experience of students at Grace. But, like me, you also expressed “grave doubts about some of the doctrinaire stuff that gets spouted at us, in the name of antiracism.” When I told you “they’re fighting a revolution” and “will hollow out Grace and move on to the next institution,” you acknowledged that “they've hollowed out a bunch of other ones ahead of us.” 

You write that you “find it regrettable that Paul Rossi chose to air his grievances with the school in the press.” But as you well know, speaking publicly about this was hardly my first choice. Over the course of several years, I have made my specific concerns clear, not only to you, but to the Head of High School, and the Assistant Head. These concerns centered on the impact of this doctrinaire ideology on our students. Even when I have simply tried to expose our students to alternative points of view in the classroom, I have been repeatedly shut down. The school’s response to my efforts to raise these concerns internally left me no choice but to speak about them publicly. 

In the letter, you say that “the wellbeing of our community is our first priority,” and that Grace cares “deeply about human dignity.” 

And yet you admitted to me that Grace Church is, in fact, “demonizing white people for being born,” and that the school is making white students “feel less than, for nothing that they are personally responsible for.” 

While I cannot know for certain, I suspect that the reason you have not shared these concerns with the broader Grace community is because you know exactly what happens to people who do — it is what is happening to me right now. I understand that. It is because of the fear I see in so many people, including so many of our students, that I felt compelled to speak out even though I knew I would pay a steep price for it. 

I love this school and its students, and I want to see it thrive. I want to see a renewed commitment to free expression, viewpoint diversity, and true education. And I think the public and, in particular, the Grace community deserve to know that these concerns are not mine alone. 

Sincerely, Paul


Here is my most fervent wish: that Paul hires an employment lawyer and sues Grace's ass off.

Below is a list of Grace Church board members. At least Grace hasn't purged this yet, unlike Brearley and Dalton. Note the presence of our old buddy Jim Best.


Olivia W. Douglas                  Chair

Ann Mellow                           Vice Chair

Tom Geniesse                         Treasurer

Karin Greenfield-Sanders.      Secretary

Jim Best

Kirby Chin

Carolina Esquenazi-Shaio

Donna Garbin

Greg Gushee

David Heller

Yoo Jin Kim

George Majoros

Renee Noel

Naomi Nwosu-Stewart

Folake Ologunja

Camille Orme

Dominique Schulte

Barbara Sibley

Jason Slibeck

Erik Sorensen

Valerie Toscano

Felicia Washington

Melanie Weston

Kenji Yoshino

Sunday, April 18, 2021

The Brearley School: the Latest Front in the Woke Wars


For those not familiar, Brearley is like Dalton; it's one of the most elite private schools in the nation, and is also on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

And the last twenty-four hours may be the most shameful in its 137-year history.

Two days ago, a Brearley parent named Andrew Gutmann sent a letter to the school community. Like Paul Rossi's letter the week before about the Grace Church School, it decried the school's descent into racial madness. 


Andrew Gutmann

Both men, for the record, have done a very courageous thing. They are digital-age Martin Luthers. Both are even-keeled and soft-spoken. Speaking out did not come easily to them, but both had reached their breaking point. (For the record, I have had lengthy conversations with each.)

I firmly believe that the more people learn about what has been perpetrated in the last few months, the more they will reach their own breaking points.

If you haven't read Gutmann's letter, it's a barnburner.

Some highlights:

"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."

"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...that Brearley has begun to teach what to think, instead of how to think."

If you haven't read the whole thing, please do. Brearley has descended into the same DEI-driven hellhole as Dalton, Grace Church, and so many others. You can read some of my previous posts to get the full flavor.

Now for the shameful part.

The very same day, without missing a beat, Brearley's Headmistress responded, and I'm literally floored at what she wrote. It is breathtaking in its intolerance, divisiveness, and complete lack of self-awareness.


Jane Fried

Let's take a close look, shall we? What follows is the complete letter, interspersed with my comments.


Dear Members of the Brearley Community,

Today, Brearley families received a letter from a Brearley parent. The letter then circulated among students, faculty, and staff at school. Many have written to say that they found the opinions expressed to be deeply offensive and harmful, and we agree.

Offensive? Which parts? The part about how we should embrace Martin Luther King's ideal of a colorblind society? Or maybe the part about objecting to the idea that blacks can't succeed without white people helping them?

And harmful? Seriously? Did anyone have to go to the ER?

This afternoon, I and others who work closely with the 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 their homes.

Oh. My. God. What kind of complete pussies have you created that they are frightened by a letter from a concerned parent? Did he threaten to physically harm anyone? Did I miss that? You claim to be training girls to be courageous, and yet you also think it's entirely appropriate when they cower in fear over some words on a piece of paper.

Our students noted that as this letter, which denies the presence of systemic racism, crossed their doorways, the evidence of ongoing racism - systemic and otherwise - is daily present in our headlines.

Oh, so you're relying on the media to help form your views? Because, you know, they are pretty balanced. And as for "systemic" racism, perhaps this might help you understand what a false narrative it is.

We express our unequivocal support for Black, Asian, Indiginous, Multiracial, and Latinx students, faculty, staff, and alums.

Latinx? Good for you signaling your virtue with the latest woke nomenclature!

Many of our students of color, especially those who identify as Black, felt that the letter questioned their belonging in the Brearley community.

I must have missed that in the letter. Did these students actually read it, or just rely on what others said? Did you even read it?

Their belonging and their excellence are unquestionable. We continue to move forward together to build an inclusive, antiracist school in which all members of our diverse community see that their contributions are acknowledged, know that they are values and that they belong.

Including the white kids? Because you just said your are "antiracist," and that actually means very specific things. It means that whites are automatically stigmatized as being part of an "oppressor class," even if they're little kids. It means we are all little more than products of our skin pigmentation. Seems to me you can't value everyone equally and in the same breath believe that one group needs to be labelled as oppressors.

Brearley will continue to listen, solicit feedback, and welcome constructive criticism from our students and our community as we challenge racism wherever we find it.

Except we won't do any of that if we don't like what you're saying.

We all share responsibility in preparing our students for purposeful and meaningful lives.

...living in fear of printed words.

We are all expected to engage in this work with respect for one another. This letter failed in both content and delivery to meet these expectations.

What content? You haven't actually brought up any specifics at all. And delivery? Are we talking about Gutmann's grammar or the postal service?

We are better than this and we must do better for our students. they are counting on us.

Sincerely,

Jane Fried


I know for a fact that many Brearley parents are astonished by Fried's response. It's a straight up effort to silence dissent and criticism by smearing the critic and stigmatizing him as a racist. She offers no specifics about where Gutmann might have been wrong, and thus allowed for zero debate on the merits. Nuanced discussion is off the table. And the allegations of "harm" are as absurd as they are offensive. Jane Fried is no better than the woke bullies who swim the fetid sewers of Twitter.

Fried's letter proves the very points Gutmann himself makes, but Fried is so blinded by the religious zeal of CRT and wokeism that she can't see that.

And as for her "community," (she likes that word a lot) she will never know just how many are pissed, because they, like parents at so many other schools, are afraid to say anything. That is the inclusive environment you have created, Ms. Fried.

And you, Brearley board members, where the hell are you? You are the enablers. I noticed, in a particularly craven move, you had your names deleted from the Brearley website yesterday. Dalton did the same thing. What are you afraid of?

Good thing the Wayback Machine exists, because here are your names:


Christine Frankenhoff Alfaro    President

David B. Philip                          SVP

Jocelyn E. Strauber.                   Secretary

Modupe Akinola                       Treasurer 

Tara Abrahams

Gideon Berger

Susan V. Beresford

Elizabeth R. Chandler

Joe DiMenna

Amina Elderfield

Tom Farrell

Jane Foley Fried

Julie Gamboa

Jane Gladstone

Martha Haakmat

Rebecca Haile

Munib Islam

Sue Meng

Stephanie Perlman

David Raso

Paula Campbell Roberts

Bill Shutzer

Lita Tandon

Olivia Wassenaar

Alan Yan


So, Dalton, Grace, Brearley...is anyone taking bets on who's next?


UPDATE: A bunch of Brearley parents sent out a letter attacking Gutmann. It is even more idiotic and tone deaf than Fried's letter. It calls Gutmann's letter "vile and racist." I dare you to read Gutmann's letter and find racism. He advocates for an MLK colorblind society, but to these idiots, that is now racist.

This has become a cult bordering on a religion


Dalton Fires Jim Best



Jim Best (inset)

Dalton is allowing its outgoing headmaster to say he's quitting, but make no mistake, he was fired. This all went down in January, and wasn't going to be announced until the end of the year, so it's curious as to why now.

Initially, I wasn't sure whether his firing was because he'd turned Dalton into a woke home of racial obsession, or because he'd allowed the situation to blow up beyond Dalton's ivy perimeter. Publicity is always awkward for a private school, and this one went supernova. Best's sin was to "say the quiet part out loud," as one friend of mine put it.

I now have some clarity. The board was actually split, with both halves wanting Best gone. One half was very upset with how he handled COVID, something that the parents were also up in arms about. Dalton didn't open for in-person classes until late January, unlike literally every other private school in New York.

The other half was upset about Dalton's woke/CRT explosion, which Best engineered, using the odious DEI consultant Pollyanna for cover. But I'm still not clear what part of that upsets the board. I suspect it was all the publicity, and not CRT itself. The board - still absent from Dalton's website - is not exactly a conservative hotbed.

In the end, both factions deemed Best's action to exhibit a failure of leadership. I'm told it was unanimous that Best had to go.

But the board told quite a different story to the parents.

A letter from the board to the community had nothing but glowing things to say about Best. Here's a small taste:

"In every role Jim has ever played at Dalton be has brought his giant heart, his passion for innovation, and his commitment to making Dalton the best it can be..."

"He will be deeply missed."

"We look forward to celebrating Jim when our community can safely gather to share a fist bump and toast his leadership..."

As one Dalton parent put it to me, "They must think we're morons."

Hey, Dalton Board: you should all resign right now. This was your chance to distance yourself from Best and everything he stood for, instead you publicly doubled down. Shame on you. You should at least have the courage to put your names back on the website.

As for Best himself, I don't doubt Best will land somewhere. The radicalized community of school administrators and board members takes care of its own. He remains on the board of the Grace Church School, which has had its own woke implosion over the last week. And while he has disappeared from Pollyanna's website, I suspect he remains very active there as well.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Here's Why We Should Lower the Drinking Age


Out of 190 countries, only 12 have drinking ages as high as ours.

Twelve.

We are keeping company with other cool kids on the block like Iraq, Oman and Equatorial Guinea.

Congress raised the age to 21 in 1984 to combat drunk-driving fatalities. It's actually a state-by-state decision (as most things should be), but the Feds coerced states with the threat of withheld highway funds. Most caved right away, although Louisiana held out for a time. Since then, the rate of drunk-driving deaths has dropped more than 50 percent. 

Good news, right? 

Absolutely. But why has it dropped?

Mothers Against Drunk Driving, a powerful lobby, will tell you it’s because of the age increase, but does anyone really think college-age kids have stopped drinking just because it’s illegal? 

Get serious. If you think that, you've never had a college age kid. Or gone to college. Or have eyes.

In reality, drivers of all ages have reacted to the much tougher enforcement and severely increased penalties. Drunk driving rates are down for every demographic, not just 18-21 year-olds. It turns out no one wants to go to jail. Back in the day, it was, “Get home safe, son.” Now it’s the slammer and huge fines. 

Technology has also changed, creating safe alternatives. Kids know to call Uber, an option not available in the ’80s, as with the mobile phones used to summon them.

It’s time to lower the drinking age and join the rest of the civilized world. Current law is not a deterrent, and it has had negative cultural effects, particularly on our nation’s campuses.

But what’s the harm, you say? Let’s start with the binge drinking of hard alcohol. Beer, the college beverage of choice since the first student was forced to read Sartre, has faded away. Too bulky. No way to sneak a keg into your dorm room. Hard liquor is the new poison, particularly vodka. It’s clear and mixes with about anything. Not surprisingly, this has made alcohol a bigger problem on campuses than ever because too much hard alcohol kills. Back in the day, I can’t remember anyone going to the hospital because they drank too much beer. 

People tried, believe me. I would know. I was in Brett Kavanagh's fraternity. We liked beer.

The higher age has also affected college culture, and not in a good way. When I was a student, we had big, campus-wide events. It was all very social and egalitarian. In fact, on our very first day, our president, the great Bart Giamatti, welcomed all freshmen to his house with an open bar. 

Imagine. 

Now, students squirrel away, pre-gaming, consuming what they want in places they won’t be caught by RAs and other mandated busybodies.

A change is needed. And Republicans — you should lead the charge.

College social life has become cliquey, balkanized. With big events out, students now huddle in smaller groups that have an irritating habit (from a social engineer’s standpoint) of self-selecting mostly along demographic lines. 

(Note to the ever-expanding university diversity departments: You should not like this. What good is diversity if no one’s hanging out with each other?)

Consider that more than 100 college presidents have signed a petition to have the age lowered back to 18. They are on the ground and see firsthand the damage of hard alcohol. They’ve had to set up complex compliance regimes to keep an army of tort lawyers at bay. Complicating matters, most seniors and juniors can legally partake, creating a great schism of haves and have-nots.

A change is needed. 

Republicans — you should lead the charge. 

Let’s face it, most 18-year-olds won’t be caught dead registering for your party. It’s an image thing, mostly. You are a brand for old people and stiffs. You have erected a fortress that says, “Enter here and never get another date.” At that crucial moment when someone first registers to vote, this is what you are up against. And once someone registers for a party, they usually stick with it for life, so the stakes are huge. It is a branding problem almost beyond repair.

Lowering the drinking age is consistent with your support for personal liberty and will resonate with libertarian-leaning youth. Lower it for beer and wine to steer teens towards safer forms of consumption. My humble suggestion is that you rally around this issue. Go on the offense, make the Democrats be the wet rags for once. I bet they’d come around quickly. 

Hey, bipartisanship!

The best part about this is that it’s the right thing to do. Eighteen-year-olds can drive, sign contracts, get married, take a bullet in Afghanistan — everything except have a beer. It’s inconsistent and patronizing, and it’s time to change it. But as long as we treat alcohol like forbidden fruit, the thrill remains.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Systemic Racism - the Big Lie


So, why do we say systemic racism, and not just racism? Why systemic?

It's important to understand the words and phrases that so thoroughly penetrate our national discourse, because most people don't.

Systemic racism is not about specific instances of racism. Rather, it is the belief that racism is imbued in our national DNA, in our system. It looks to broad, racial outcomes as evidence. Any disparity in result is a priori proof of systemic racism.

Ibram X. Kendi himself, the man at the very pinnacle of the "Anti-racism" power structure, says, "Racial discrimination is the sole cause of racial disparities in this country."

The sole cause. Nothing else. Not fatherless homes. Not personal choices. Not school quality, or culture, or even luck.

As long as racial groups perform differently, there must be racism. Systemic racism.

If our system is racist, then we must ask, what does our system consist of? The answer to that is institutions, of course. The government, corporations, schools, foundations...

And this is where I have a real problem with the whole thing. But first, let's be clear, there was a time in our country where most of our institutions were racist. You don't even have to go back too far in our history; certainly within my lifetime. (Note: I'm primarily addressing racism against blacks here, because that's what Critical Race Theory and "Anti-racism" deal with. I'm perfectly aware you could make a systemic racism argument today where "white-adjacent" groups are concerned, i.e. Asians and Indian-Americans.)

But matters have changed radically in the last few decades. I am unaware of any institutions that don't give special preferences to blacks. Many significantly so. 

Everyone knows this, but it's a truth you can't speak, particularly if you rely on someone else for your paycheck.

Whether you think such preferences are the right thing to do is a discussion for a different day. But it's an unarguable fact that they exist.

The government and public schools certainly do. 

Universities certainly do. The average SAT scores for black students at places like Harvard is several hundred points lower than other students.

Corporations certainly do. In fact, they are desperate to hire more black candidates, and are often frustrated in their efforts to do so. Same goes for finding board members. The CEO of Wells Fargo, Charles Scharf, got in hot water recently when he said, "The unfortunate reality is that there is a very limited pool of black talent to recruit from."

Does he have a point, or was he being racist? Blacks are 12% of the population, but they are only 7% of the pool of college graduates. How is Scharf supposed to get to 12%? I suppose he could, but then other banks would be left woefully short in this zero-sum game. 

Here's the rub: representation of less than 12% is viewed by the Ibram X. Kendis of the world as case-closed proof of racism. Similarly, if a neighborhood is less than 12% black, it must be because of racism.

No further evidence required.

Remember, this is all about group results, not individuals.

(Aside: that blacks are underrepresented as college grads is worthy of serious discussion, even if it's not something Scharf can solve as CEO of a bank. The problem is that you can't get to the heart of the issue without discussing the absence of black fathers or the failure of teachers unions to actually teach, and those are places you are not allowed to go.)

Systemic racism is the Big Lie because our institutions are not racist. They actually have become the opposite, seeking absolution for past sins - sins committed long before anyone currently in charge was involved in any way.

But we will never get to racial nirvana if we measure everything by groups. Groups will always perform differently, and for many reasons. This is a convenient state of affairs for DEI race hustlers because as long as differential outcomes exist, systemic racism can be blamed, and you will need their blessing to function. 

The revolution becomes permanent, and unless you want it to come for you, you'd better shell out for a DEI consultant and get that seal of approval. (For as long as your checks clear, anyway.)

As a conservative, I believe that individuals have rights, not groups. If there are acts of racism against individuals, I want to know about it, because it goes against everything I believe. 

But notice I said acts

If a person is guilty of acts of racism, let's call him out, even prosecute him if laws have been broken. 

If an institution is committing acts of racism, same thing. Shame on them, and there are multiple paths for remediation.

We conservatives want to solve problems.

The DEI movement does not. That's why the very definition of racism gets ever-more-nebulous. Now we have "microaggressions" and "unconscious bias," which can be so subtle that neither the victim nor the perpetrator knows they're happening. Then there's "cultural appropriation," of course (without which we wouldn't have the Beatles - just sayin'). 

There's an endless word salad of new, ever-more-nuanced transgressions. Just yesterday, I learned the word misogynoir. (That means bias against black women, in case your Oxford English Dictionary hasn't been updated in the last 24 hours.)

But solving the problem of race means the Great Race Hustle goes away, so true solutions must always be another DEI-training-session-out-of-reach.

Thus, racism is in the air we breathe and the water we drink. It's in a look or a glance, or the food we choose to cook. It's in the Classics, and Twain, and To Kill a Mockingbird. 

Even poor Dr. Seuss. 

Oh, the things you can't do!

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Heads Begin to Roll at Dalton (But Don't Be Fooled)



As this space told you a few weeks ago, heads would roll. 

Yesterday, Dalton announced that its Director of DEI ("Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion"), Domonic Rollins, would be leaving in "pursuit of other opportunities."

Rollins, I'm told, rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, including some longtime and supportive Dalton families. "He is completely dismissive of people not of color," one parent told me.

Rollins

His scalp won't be the last, but only because Dalton has been embarrassed about the publicity, not because they fundamentally disagree with the "Anti-racist" agenda.

The timing of the announcement was interesting. The decision was actually made some weeks ago, but they wanted to put off the announcement so it didn't look like they were caving to outside pressure. 

But why now?

It seems parent contracts are due Monday, and I'm told lots of extensions have been granted. A parental survey was just completed and there's lots of blowback. People wanted a signal that their concerns were being taken seriously. Rollins was the sacrificial lamb. 

(Don't shed any tears. DEI is a booming industry. Rollins will find work, and probably a higher salary to boot. Coincidentally enough, he is following precisely the same narrative arc as the villain in Campusland.)

Rollins will not be the last person sent to the gallows before the academic year is out.

Parents: this is all meaningless theater. Rollins' ouster means nothing, and will change nothing. Per their announcement, Dalton will do a "national search" for Rollins' replacement, and they remain as committed as ever to "Anti-racism." It's right there on their website

Remember, "Anti-racism" is the application of Critical Race Theory (CRT). They are the same thing.

If you think any of this simply means being against racism, you are WRONG. If you are a parent, you are negligent if you don't do independent research into what CRT really means. CRT is an anti-intellectual virus that has spread through the vital organs of our country in just a few short months.

GET UP THE CURVE.

Here's a few pointers:

CRT is, itself, racist. It seeks to define us not as individuals, nor by the content of our characters, but as mere products of our skin colors. If you are white, no amount of self-abasement can wash the stain of your DNA.

CRT is anti-meritocracy. Equal results are paramount. Anything else is evidence of systemic racism, and must be forcibly corrected. The concepts of "excellence" and "equity" are mutually exclusive. The very word meritocracy is considered a micro-aggression.

CRT divides us, it doesn't unite. It inculcates our youngest children with angry racial distinctions that they themselves don't draw.

CRT is Marxist. It's a new strain, called by some "cultural" Marxism. In the old version, the "oppressed" were defined by class (the proletariat). In the new version, the they are defined by skin pigmentation. It's all the same thing.

CRT is anti-science. Objective truth does not exist. It is a social construct used as a tool of oppression. Even the idea of a correct answer in math is now being challenged as a social construct meant to lift some at the expense of others. 

Not kidding or exaggerating about any of this. For God's sake, look it up yourselves. Take these people at their word.

After you realize what's being perpetrated on your children, say something.

Do something.








 

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Dalton, Pollyanna, and the Diversity Racket

I spoke to a senior administrator of a well known private school recently. He was filled with frustration over the ever-shifting sands of the diversity game.

"Things that were best practices until recently are now considered racist," he said. "Five minutes from now it will change again. The nomenclature changes almost constantly. Who decides these things? I have no idea."

The fact is, the DEI industry needs the rules to change, because they can never have achievable goals. Otherwise, success would sow the seeds of their own irrelevance. 

This is why DEI objectives are always amorphous, impossible to quantify, to prove or disprove. The very concept of "systemic" racism is to move away from specific instances of racism - things that can be dealt with - to diffuse, societal racism, something that will always just "be."

It's also why the DEI industry invents new concepts such as "microaggressions," which are instances of racism so subtle that frequently neither the victim nor the transgressor know it's occurred. ("Where are you from?")

The DEI industry needs friction to survive, so it sows dissension where it can, which is just about everywhere. Perpetually reworking the definition of racism such that institutions never know where they stand is part of the game.

(The educator also said that the National Association of Independent Schools, the accreditation body in charge of our nation's private schools, has gone full woke. "I can't remember the last time the cover of their monthly magazine didn't have something to do with diversity. I mean, it's important, but so many other things are as well.")

Diversity has morphed from a social movement to a full blown industry with scores of conferences, consultants, and expensive opportunities for absolution. Martin Luther would blush at the scope of modern indulgence buying.

A lot of money is being made. Books, speaking fees, consulting contracts...Want to hire Ibram Kendi for a 45 minute Zoom? That'll set you back twenty K. 

Dalton's diversity consultant is an outfit called Pollyanna. Separating where Dalton ends and Pollyanna begins is a bit difficult. Pollyanna itself appears to be a Dalton creation. Its founder, Caspar Caldarola, is an alumna as well as a former Dalton trustee for ten years - right up until the moment she started Pollyanna. Of Pollyanna's nine full time staff, six have deep ties to Dalton. Of the twelve board members, half have similar ties. The original board was 100% Dalton. Every year Dalton hosts the "Dalton Conference," a DEI conference for New York private schools. Pollyanna organizes this conference and uses it to raise money.


Casper Caldarola

Many of Pollyanna's donors are Dalton people as well. Interestingly, much like how Dalton made the names of its trustees disappear, Pollyanna has purged the names of donors from its own website. I have the list, although I can't see any purpose in reprinting it here, other than I will say that Dalton Headmaster Jim Best is on it. 

There's nothing, prima facie, wrong with any of this. But it does raise conflict of interest issues when Dalton hires Pollyanna, which they did from the outset. Dalton and Pollyanna are deeply in bed. Jim Best's letter to parents last week said they were hiring "independent experts" to evaluate Dalton's DEI efforts. Dollars to donuts he's talking about Pollyanna.

Best was also prominently quoted on the Pollyanna website until that, too, disappeared. For the sake of posterity, here's what he said:

"Pollyanna is transformative. You'll talk the talk, you'll walk the walk, and you'll see the world - and your work - in a new light."

He's right about one thing, what Pollyanna promotes is transformative. But it's a transformation few parents sign up for when they actually understand it. The 1619 Project, forced equal results, race-shaming, cop hatred...it's all there.

So, what does Pollyanna do? Here are some of the services they offer:

Curriculum Assessments This is where they tell what your kids are being taught isn't woke enough.

Cross-Constituent Assessments The description of this is a progressive word salad. I have no idea what it means.

Conferences Pollyanna will organize them. Intra-school, multi-school, you name it.

Racial Literacy Curriculum This is where, having failed the assessment, schools are told they have to revamp their curriculum, and Pollyanna will show them the way. 

This last one is the dangerous part. It is an entire K-8 program where "racial literacy" is woven into every aspect of school; science, health, history, the whole thing. It is a full embrace of Critical Race Theory. If you aren't up to speed on CRT and you're a parent, you should get there. 

While Dalton claims to be reviewing its curriculum for DEI, the program is, in fact, already embedded into the fabric of their school. Pollyanna is Dalton, Dalton is Pollyanna.

Want a play where one of the parts is "Racist Cop?" Dalton's got your back. They had one.

What does Pollyanna charge for its services? Well, that's hard to say, because there's little transparency in the DEI industry. I am reminded of when I was writing Campusland and I tried to find out how many DEI officers a typical Ivy college had on their staffs, and the information was nowhere to be found. (I later discovered that Yale has 150.) As for Pollyanna, one school administrator believes that hiring Pollyanna for the full array of their services (which keep growing) would cost "somewhere in the six figures a year." 

How many scholarships could that pay for?

Parents and alumni: this is where your donations are going; to neo-segregation ("affinity grouping"), America-bashing, and ethnic self-loathing. Your dollars enable this intellectual virus.

To that administrator who wondered who was making all these rules up: it's organizations like Pollyanna, plus their enablers in the academic world.

The interesting thing is that few people at Pollyanna have any experience in actual, non-diversity related, education. Caldarola doesn't. Her background is marketing and communications. Of Pollyanna's nine employees, only three have teaching experience. Of the twelve trustees, exactly two have teaching experience. (One trustee is a high school student who is "actively looking for a job," according to his LinkedIn profile.)

However well-meaning they may be, these are the kind of non-qualified people being allowed to completely rewrite the curricula of our schools and redefine their very missions.

One school I spoke to said they paid Pollyanna "low five figures" for two Zoom calls. They discontinued their relationship when it was clear that Pollyanna was a big proponent of the odious New York Times 1619 Project, a view that America's very founding and history is little more than the story of slavery and racism. It has been widely denounced as factually inaccurate by scores of historians, but that hasn't stopped it from gaining full purchase in the DEI industry, and therefore our schools. Dalton's own "Anti-racism resources" web page links to it. While you're there, you can also read such ideological effluence such as:

  • Me and White Supremacy
  • Intersectionality Matters!
  • Black Feminist Thought

It's a long, long list, likely curated by Pollyanna. It's the kind of material that is crowding out the rest of the curriculum. Every minute kids spend getting indoctrinated in wokeism is a minute they are not reading Shakespeare, learning algebra, or practicing creative writing. And besides being factually and philosophically challenged, the list embodies a relentlessly depressing view of the world, and of America in particular. No wonder our schools are producing so many kids who no longer view our country, the Great Experiment, with pride. Many actively detest it. 

How sad. Not the way want my kids or anyone else's kids to grow up.

DEI has evolved into its own interest group, one that has little to do with actually helping minorities and others among the "oppressed." To the contrary, it wants to create permanent victim classes, ones that will perpetually be in need of saving. For a price.

In reality, the DEI industry is serving the interests of white people far more than black. 

I am reminded of a quote from African-American economist Walter Williams (who sadly died a few weeks ago):

"I am glad I was educated before it was fashionable for white people to like black people."

Read this for an interesting perspective from a black Ph.D. in astronomy.

The Big Grift

However well-meaning the diversity movement may have once been, the DEI industry is now a grift - and an incredibly successful one. Social justice warriors on social media ensure compliance. Anyone who raises a red flag is forever branded a racist and cancelled for good measure. This cows most into silence. So much easier to hire DEI consultants and go on about your life.

I think, though, that the tenets of CRT and DEI are becoming so outrageous that more are starting to speak up, particularly as they discover that others have quietly agreed.

Let's pray that's true, because while many adults choose to engage in ritualistic self-flagellation, our kids, white and black, are paying the price.


Post Script: In a Zoom call with parents two days ago, Dalton headmaster Jim Best called the Naked Dollar a "blog with a few dozen followers." The Naked Dollar may not be the Huffington Post, but it got a quarter of a million hits over the last few weeks, so...But perhaps Best should ask himself why, if the Naked Dollar is so irrelevant, the story could gain such wide coverage. Perhaps because it touched a nerve? Perhaps because it's saying things that the parents at your school are afraid to say out loud? Your problems were not created by this blog.




Saturday, January 30, 2021

Parsing Jim Best's Letter to the Dalton Community



Head of School Best

This letter was sent by Head of School Jim Best yesterday as a response to the anonymous parent letter. It is unedited, but my comments are italicized.


To the Dalton Community:

Like many schools across the country, Dalton is in the midst of a rigorous and constructive debate about how to bring important issues of equity to life in ways that reinforce and advance our academic program. 

No, it's not. There has been no debate. Under the cover of the COVID distraction, "anti-racism" has been presented to parents and alumni as a fait accompli, and has already been sown into the entire curriculum. 

This debate has recently centered around the School's commitment to becoming an anti-racist institution, and one or more parents recently chose to write an anonymous letter that takes issue with how – and why – we're bringing that objective to life for our students. 

Have you asked yourself why these parents chose to remain anonymous?

I'd like to take a moment to articulate the values backing that commitment, and why it is so important for our school.

At its heart, Dalton seeks to create a climate of respect rooted in creativity, curiosity, individual risk-taking, and personal excellence. Our core values of honesty, integrity, compassion, courage, humility, citizenship, justice, respect, and responsibility, are not just words on a website – they are an essential part of who we are and how we develop students of strong character.

Great list of core values - except they can't be all be when "anti-racism" is now positioned as THE core value.

Our commitment to being an anti-racist institution is a natural extension of these values. In its simplest terms, this means creating an inclusive environment where all members of our community – students, faculty, staff, parents, and alums – feel respected, valued, and heard. 

Do you think that the parents right now feel "respected, valued, and heard?" 

It's a belief that every person who walks through Dalton's doors, physical or virtual, should be treated with dignity and empathy and protected from hatred and ignorance in all its forms. None of that is onerous; none of that is ideological. 

It's not ideological? "Not being a racist" is not ideological - it's human decency. "Anti-racism" is ideological to its core. Here's how Merriam-Webster defines "ideology": 

"A systematic body of concepts especially about human life or culture."

I can't think of anything that fits that description better than "anti-racism."

These are the principles that have guided our school for over a century and that will continue to be our north star.

To bring these principles to life in a thoughtful, meaningful way, this December I launched a comprehensive formal review of all DEI-related academic programming – led by independent experts and guided by exceptional faculty steeped in our rigorous academic tradition – to ensure that any existing or future programmatic and curricular revisions are consistent with our mission. 

Independent experts? Are we talking about Pollyanna? For those not familiar, Pollyanna is a "DEI consultant," and they are steeped in ideological, race-based training, including fully embracing "anti-racism" and the odious 1619 Project. They were founded by Casper Caldarola, a Dalton grad and ex board member. Their board and staff are chock full of Dalton people.

This effort will be further informed by our community through expert-led interviews and anonymous surveys, the first of which I hope everyone will complete by Monday, February 1, at
5:00 PM.

Some parents have told me the survey is a joke. The very first question asks parents to list the things they like most about Dalton's DEI mission. That's like asking, what do you like best about me, my intelligence or good looks? How about asking some of the questions that parents suggested in the anonymous letter?

As we roll out the results of this review later this spring, I intend to do a better job of demonstrating that excellence and inclusion aren't competing ideas; each makes the other stronger. Rigor and anti-racism aren't mutually exclusive, they're integral to each other. 

Absolutely wrong. A key tenet of "anti-racism" is equity. Equity means equal results. It means ditching advanced classes if blacks aren't making it into them in societally correct percentages. As Andrew Sullivan put it, "Equity means treating individuals unequally so that groups are equal."

True to our founding, I'll continue to try to strike the ideal balance between where excellence meets innovation, grounded by the strong academic ideals that remain a cornerstone of our school.

Is any of this true to Dalton's founding? I think of the school's motto, Go Forth Unafraid, and then I think of parents who can only voice their opinions under the veil of anonymity. 

As a community that has long stood for the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion, my hope is that in this at least, we can stand together. To do so we must continue to work alongside one another, to communicate openly, and assume the best of intent from one another. We must model for our students what it takes to learn and change in our constant effort to be a better and stronger community in a better and stronger world.

With gratitude,
Jim Best



Friday, January 29, 2021

Some Dalton Parents Want to Save the School



Proposals reprinted here in full. This was attached to the bottom of the letter in my previous post. Note that members of the board have already privately dismissed much of this to be "racist," and the letter writers remain anonymous for fear of retribution.

By the way, remember how Jim Best's initial reaction in the wake of the Naked Dollar's revelations in December was to describe the faculty demands as a "conversation starter?" The letter below, as well as the one in the previous post, make it clear this was a lie. Many of the demands were already fully implemented. Illustrating this perfectly is that (per Jim Best's welcome back email), Dalton no longer implements "DEI," which, as we all know by now, stands for "Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion," but "DEIA."

Apparently, this is going to be like LGBTIAQ (...) where every few weeks a new letter is added to placate ever-more narrowly sliced constituencies. It used to be just "D&I," but the equity part was added a couple of years ago. The "A" now stands for "Anti-racism," which is a full-throated advocacy of Critical Race Theory.

And there's this: the Dalton Board is in complete disarray. They are preparing a response to the "concerned parents" but have no idea what to say. There have been many drafts. Some on the board want to concede that "anti-racism" shouldn't necessarily be the school's entire reason for being, while others claim this view itself to be racist. They apparently aren't even close to figuring out what to say.

Here's a takeaway quote from the parent letter below: 

"It's quite clear that over the summer, when schools across the country were thinking deeply about how to reopen and teach students, the Dalton administration was on a crusade to radically transform the school's curriculum and pedagogy."

By the way, you will see references to something called "Pollyanna." The Naked Dollar will explore connections between Dalton, its board, and Pollyanna in the next post.


Ideas for Restoring the Confidence of the Dalton Community

In response to the crisis of confidence, we believe three important steps are necessary., and we outline them below. We welcome a dialogue and a free exchange of ideas - if there are better ideas those would be great too!

First, the Dalton Board must immediately appoint and impartial ombudsperson to advocate for Dalton's education mission and to solicit feedback from parents and alumni about the changes to the curriculum. This could be an Ombudsperson for Curricular Excellence as outlined by the incoming Board Chair. This must be someone who is widely trusted, someone that parents and alumni may feel comfortable reaching out to in absolute confidence. Ideally it would be someone well steeped in the Dalton way. This person would be ethically and legally bound by confidentiality.

It is essential that this ombudsperson be impartial and not come from the DEI industry or specialization, which would defeat the purpose of having an independent voice. The recent appointment of experts on DEI from outside Dalton to ascertain whether we have gone far enough is not sufficient. These may be respected and talented professionals of good will, but the nature of their mandate and professional expertise does not necessarily position them to look at whether the school is being served by the curricular changes, whether the school is staying on mission, and whether the proportion of DEI materials in the curriculum is right sized. They are not positioned to see how upset the parent body and alumni are. The administration must not be involved in the selection of guidance of this important representative of the community.

Second, the ombudsperson must open a confidential avenues of communication with community members and hold an anonymous survey of the faculty, parents and alumni to understand how the community feels about the pedagogical changes. This is very different from the survey being proposed by the administration. If the results of the survey aren't anonymous, it's basically useless. It must be designed and implemented by an ombudsperson accountable to the Board and bound by confidentiality to honor the anonymity of respondents. This is the only way to get a real feel of the depth of the crisis that has been created. The survey should include the following areas:

  1. Do you feel Dalton has stayed true to its educational mission?
  2. What are your thoughts about the Dalton "anti-racism curriculum?"
  3. Does "anti-racism" make you feel hurt or excluded?
  4. Is the cadence right? i.e. should it be every class, every day, every subject? or perhaps an assembly once a year? once a month? In response to current events?
  5. Would you be happier supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion, or DEI, without "anti-racism" in the curriculum?
  6. Is a DEI program which appears to segregate parents and children by race in groups and clubs contributing to the healing within the community?
  7. Do parents and faculty feel the new material is age-appropriate?
  8. Does the community have confidence in the administration and DEI leadership to champion Dalton's educational mission?

Third, the school must immediately put a hold on this new "anti-racist" curriculum and revert to the Dalton curriculum. Immediately pause the "anti-racist" teacher training programs, Pollyanna, and other well-intentioned programs that are altering the curriculum and mission without proper review. First Program students and Middle Schoolers have been exposed to a college-oriented curriculum with sexuality and violence. Make Health and Assembly optional until there is a consensus that these are age-appropriate. Empower the teachers to passionately take responsibility for the children's education and teach their subjects according to the Dalton Plan, as they have done so well for 100 years. It seems insane that we have to say this, but let's restore the centrality of education to the school's mission.

With regard to the teacher trainings driving curricular changes, a glance at Pollyanna's website suggests that their recommended curriculum has already permeated Dalton classes from social studies to science. This is a brand new, untested endeavor and it appears there are close ties between the Board, PA, and the administration that suggest a conflict of interest, or at least a muddling of priorities and missions.

The company's website features a quote from Jim Best: "Pollyanna is transformative. You'll talk the talk, you'll walk the walk, and you'll see the world-and-your-work-in a new light." We don't believe it's right to transform the Dalton curriculum and pedagogy with a new "anti-racist" pedagogy, or "racial literacy." It appears some of the worst abuses this year stem from this source. It's quite clear that over the summer, when schools across the country were thinking deeply about how to reopen and teach students, the Dalton administration was on a crusade to radically transform the school's curriculum and pedagogy. Many parents and alumni have lost confidence in the administration's leadership and ability to make independent and unbiased decisions about the content of the curriculum. 

A neutral and unbiased ombudsperson appears to us the only way that a reasoned dialogue can be achieved in the wake of a highly divisive rollout of curricular changes, in an atmosphere of fear of speaking up. If the Dalton Board is not willing to step up and get an independent person that can be trusted to take the pulse of the community and act as a steward of Dalton's educational mission, as concerned parents and alumni, we would be open to finding a neutral third party for this important role.

We understand that the Board isn't set up to design the curriculum. They are, however, trustees and stewards of Dalton's educational mission. Curricular changes that affect that mission should concern the Board. In civics terms, these curricular changes that have been taken in the heat of the moment by Executive Order, but are serious enough to require a Constitutional Amendment. 

Once the situation has been stabilized and the school reconnects with its core mission, we can consider a multi-year curricular review. The content of the curriculum could be considered holistically by some of the finest minds of the educational world. It is in this context of ensuring a broad liberal arts education that curricular changes might best be considered and evaluated in accordance with Dalton's educational mission.

We hope this is food for thought, and we implore the Board to open a more meaningful dialogue with the community before the administration makes major changes to Dalton's curriculum and educational philosophy.