How wokeness is taking over America's prep schools

Bari Weiss has written an outstanding piece for City Journal about the ways in which wokeness has moved from universities to some of the country’s most exclusive prep schools. After speaking with parents and teachers at schools on both the east and west coast, Weiss concludes the woke revolution is already over. In fact, parents at these schools, aware their kids could be kicked out for any reason, are afraid to be identified as skeptics of critical race theory. This fear of being accused (or worse having your children blacklisted) is already so great that not a single person Weiss spoke to was willing to have their name appear in print.

The piece opens with Weiss sitting in with a group of concerned parents in LA whose kids attend a $40,000-a-year prep school. They meet in private because of fear of being discovered.

“They are making my son feel like a racist because of the pigmentation of his skin,” one mother says. Another poses a question to the group: “How does focusing a spotlight on race fix how kids talk to one another? Why can’t they just all be Wolverines?” (Harvard-Westlake has declined to comment.)…

“The school can ask you to leave for any reason,” said one mother at Brentwood, another Los Angeles prep school. “Then you’ll be blacklisted from all the private schools and you’ll be known as a racist, which is worse than being called a murderer.”

One private school parent, born in a Communist nation, tells me: “I came to this country escaping the very same fear of retaliation that now my own child feels.” Another joked: “We need to feed our families. Oh, and pay $50,000 a year to have our children get indoctrinated.” A teacher in New York City put it most concisely: “To speak against this is to put all of your moral capital at risk.”

One student who learned his mother was going to speak to Bari Weiss for this story begged her not to. He told his mom that “one bad statement” would “ruin us.” Again, it doesn’t appear that any of these parents are conservatives. They’re all wealthy people from LA and New York. But that doesn’t matter. Questioning the dogma is a huge personal risk, so they mostly don’t do it. But there are some people even within the institution that make some effort to resist the tide of wokeness because they see what it is doing to kids.

“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.”

Three thousand miles away, in Los Angeles, another prep-school teacher says something similar. “It teaches people who have so much to see themselves as victims. They think they are suffering oppression at one of the poshest schools in the country.”…

All of this “has made me think about race more,” said one teen boy in Manhattan. The curriculum, he explained, was trying to teach him to feel obsessed with his whiteness, the opposite of what his parents had taught him to do. Making students separate out by race in affinity groups is racist, he said. “MLK would condemn my school.”

There’s a lot more to the piece but you get the idea. This has taken over top prep schools the same way it has universities. Public schools are next on the list. If you have a student heading to elementary school they could be like a little girl described in the story who came home one day and told her stunned father, “All people with lighter skin don’t like people with darker skin and are mean to them.” God help us all when this becomes the only acceptable view anyone can speak in public. That day may be coming a lot faster than you think.

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David Strom 9:21 PM on March 24, 2023