In a carefully worded email to the Dalton community, Head of School Jim Best has responded to the Naked Dollar's revelations about their woke agenda. The email, reprinted in full below, was no doubt crafted with the outside consultants who have been hired to help manage the crisis.
I have a number of comments directly for Mr. Best.
- You refer to the original document as a "thought piece." A document signed by over one hundred people strikes me as much more of an end point than a beginning. The fact you put "thought starter" in quotes means it's not a thought starter at all.
- You say I have "mischaracterized" your efforts? How, exactly? I am providing the transparency that you, apparently, have not. The only point we could have a legitimate argument over is whether the letter can be characterized as "demands." Something signed by over one hundred staffers seems very much like a demand, and that's certainly how the parents I have been in touch with view them. This is an age-old tactic: find one thing that may not be a provable fact in order to discredit everything else.
- Dalton does not "stand behind all the concepts shared or actions prescribed." So, which ones do you stand by? Because the entire thing reads like some manifesto written by a freshman sociology major. The Port Huron Statement had nothing on Dalton Letter. The whole agenda smacks of indoctrination. This is a dangerous echo of the Red Guard and Maoist "struggle sessions."
- You claim that the letter was only "recently brought to (your) attention." Could you define "recently?" Because I find this extremely difficult to believe.
- Dalton is committed to an "anti-racist curriculum." These are chilling words to those schooled in Orwell. As I pointed out in a previous post, Dalton is even finding ways to make the STEM curriculum woke.
- You say you will conduct a parental survey. Excellent idea. One question: will it be anonymous? Because if it isn't, you will only get answers you want to hear.
- Your letter closes by saying that Dalton is a "unified community." No, it's not. I have experienced this personally. You only think it is because no one dares speak out. Many parents are extremely angry. And no, they are not crypto-racists. The agenda of the letter, in any part, will only hurt the very people it aims to help creating a permanent victim class.
Side note: the Daily Mail story said that I was a Dalton parent. I am not, and I have asked them to make the correction.
To the Dalton Community,
As you may know, a blog called "The Naked Dollar" has blatantly and erroneously mischaracterized diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts at Dalton. I feel compelled to set the record straight lest it—and any additional media coverage that may follow—be taken seriously.
At issue is a "thought starter" document created this summer by a subset of faculty and staff with ideas on how to achieve Dalton's commitment to becoming an anti-racist institution in the wake of George Floyd's tragic death. While the blog refers to these ideas as "faculty demands," that is not true. The document—which was only recently brought to my attention—was never presented to, nor considered by, the administration, and we do not stand behind all of the concepts shared or actions proscribed. In short, what the blog characterizes as current or possible policy is instead a set of ideas created at a specific moment in time as a well-intentioned effort to help Dalton navigate this critical issue.
What the blog post does get right, albeit unintentionally, is the spirit of intellectual debate that uniquely defines our community. Part of Dalton's magic is that our students are inspired to "go forth unafraid" by educators who aren't afraid to think boldly. In this instance, sparked by a national outpouring of grief and pain around racial injustice, some faculty and staff took the step of questioning the status quo around age-old structures that may foster systemic racism. And while there are better ways to go about advancing those views, I wouldn't wish for a culture in which the authors didn't feel free to express themselves. However, I will continue to clarify expectations and processes with faculty and staff that lead to more collaborative and productive outcomes.
Dalton prides itself as a leader in diversity, equity, and inclusion and will always welcome community input and honest debate around how to meaningfully bring these principles to life. To that end, as mentioned in my December 8th "DEI and Anti-Racism Update," Dalton is actively, thoughtfully engaged in rethinking how our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism is realized in our curriculum and in our student and community life—always in keeping with our strong values and high standards of academic excellence.
We will begin this reset with the launch of a comprehensive discipline review of our DEI efforts and will supplement this work with the results of a community-wide survey. Together, these will inform the development and coordination of a cohesive and developmentally appropriate anti-racist curriculum. I look forward to sharing an update on progress towards this goal in early January. In the meantime, you can check the Commitment to Anti-Racism Progress Report on our website.
I hope you share my pride in Dalton's leadership role in diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism and that we stand together as a unified community. And while this forward-looking role may sometimes put us in the spotlight, it also illuminates the importance of what we are trying to achieve together.
Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions, and I trust you'll continue to support the hard and necessary work to get this right.