The head of an exclusive private school in New York City was caught on an audio recording telling a teacher that the school is “demonizing White people for being born.”
George Davison, the longtime head of Grace Church School in downtown Manhattan, made the comment last month discussion of the school’s coursework in critical race theory, which teaches that White people are inherently racist and retain economic and political power by oppressing people of color.
The conversation was captured on audiotape by Paul Rossi, a teacher who has criticized the school for enforcing a “woke” environment where many people are afraid to speak openly in class or the halls.
Mr. Rossi published his account on Substack through Bari Weiss, a former editor at The New York Times who left the paper earlier this year because of what she said was a creeping totalitarian mindset at the newspaper that does not tolerate debate or discussion on many issues.
On Tuesday, in a recorded clip on the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism (FAIR) Twitter’s feed, Mr. Davison can be heard discussing the curriculum at Grace Church School, a liberal Episcopalian institution near Greenwich Village.
“We are using language that makes [White students] feel ‘less than’ for nothing they are personally responsible for,” Mr. Davison says in the recording.
The school’s communications director did not return a phone call seeking comment Tuesday.
Mr. Davison has recently announced his retirement after more than three decades at Grace.
In a message at Grace Church School’s website, Mr. Davison professes the school is “proud” to be “in the eye of a culture war storm,” and he defended the schools “Inclusive Language Guide,” which some have criticized as a Maoist minefield for students and parents.
Grace Church School is hardly alone. Questions about critical race theory practices at the nation’s exclusive private schools, where tuition tops $55,000 a year for K-12 education, erupted this spring from Los Angeles to New York City.
Many of them have come from the Substack “Common Sense” work of Ms. Weiss, who is also a director at FAIR. Over the weekend, for instance, she published a letter from Andrew Gutmann, a parent who has pulled his daughter out of the tony Brearly School.
“It cannot be stated strongly enough that Brearly’s obsession with race must stop,” Mr. Gutmann wrote. “It should be abundantly clear to any thinking parent that Brearly 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.”
Anti-racism is a concept pioneered by Ibram X. Kendi and other African-American professors that holds an unspecified period of reverse discrimination against White people is required to address the tenets of White supremacy built into all American institutions. White people are inherently racist, according to critical race theorists, and must be purged of thoughts that may be unconscious but are embedded in the color of one’s skin.
The Biden administration this week unveiled proposed rules for awards in K-12 U.S. history teaching that embraces Mr. Kendi’s philosophy and supports “The 1619 Project,” a New York Times project that won a Pulitzer Prize although several Pulitzer Prize-winning historians excoriated it for its historical inaccuracies.
Under the administration’s rules, those seeking various federal grants for teaching U.S. history and civics must stress, “systemic marginalization, biases, inequities, and discriminatory policy and practice in American history.”
At many of the most expensive private schools in America, such thinking already dominates, according to concerned parents and conservative groups that have sprouted to combat “critical race theory” practices.
Mr. Rossi revealed what’s going on at Grace Church School in an April 13 essay entitled “I refuse to stand by while my students are indoctrinated.”
“Antiracist training sounds righteous, but it is the opposite of truth in advertising,” Mr. Rossi wrote. “It requires teachers like myself to treat students differently on the basis of race.”
Anyone uncertain about what is happening is forced to toe the line and “to reframe their views to conform to this orthodoxy,” he said.
The result is a sharp-edged tribalism, replete with accusations that all members of certain groups, such as Whites or heterosexuals, possess immoral and wicked attributes, along with severe consequences for all who fail to embrace the ideology, said Mr. Rossi, who has been relieved of his teaching duties since his essay was published.
“My school, like so many others, induces students via shame and sophistry to identify primarily with their race before their individual identities are fully formed,” he wrote.
“Students are pressured to conform their opinions to those broadly associated with their race and gender and to minimize or dismiss individual experiences that don’t match those assumptions. The morally compromised status of ‘oppressor’ is assigned to one group of students based on their immutable characteristics.
• James Varney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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