Bari Weiss’ blog has been publishing pieces by outside contributors. Today she has one written by a Manhattan high school teacher named Paul Rossi which offers his first hand account of daring to question the wisdom of the anti-racism training the school is adopting and forcing on students. Rossi says up front that he knows he’s risking his career to speak up but feels he has an obligation to the students who are being harmed by this.
I know that by attaching my name to this I’m 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. But witnessing the harmful impact it has on children, I can’t stay silent.
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. 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. In the meantime, dependency, resentment and moral superiority are cultivated in students considered “oppressed.”
Rossi has been told that he and other teachers are not to question this outlook in front of students. If they have doubts they are only supposed to discuss them with the school’s “Office of Community Engagement.” However, during a recent segregated zoom meeting, Rossi raised questions:
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.
Once Rossi broke the ice, it started a lively discussion of these issues. However, he was soon reprimanded by the head of the school for failing to serve the “greater good and the higher truth.” He was also told he had created “dissonance for vulnerable and unformed thinkers.” We can’t have dissonance about identity politics. Everyone must march in lockstep. Rossi says that days later a letter condemning his conduct was read to all students. It doesn’t sound as if he was singled out by name but since students had been present, they could figure out who the letter was talking about.
Rossi also describes a recent faculty email chain in which someone recommended the school take a more aggressive approach to anyone who resists the indoctrination:
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.”
When I questioned what form this resistance takes, examples presented by a colleague included “persisting with a colorblind ideology,” “suggesting that we treat everyone with respect,” “a belief in meritocracy,” and “just silence.” In a special assembly in February 2019, our head of school said that the impact of words and images perceived as racist — regardless of intent — is akin to “using a gun or a knife to kill or injure someone.”
Immersed in a culture like this, where the stakes of voicing any doubts about the orthodoxy are compared to murder, of course students are going to fall in line. But I suspect the institutions taking this approach are setting themselves up for eventual failure. Any school that teaches a narrow religious dogma which is too fragile to be questioned and too narrow to survive contact with the real world won’t maintain a hold on students for long.
The piece ends with Rossi relating a visit from a lone student who came to his office to thank him for the questions he’d raised in the Zoom meeting. As he did, he was careful to make sure he wasn’t observed because he had once been reprimanded by another teacher for making a conservative point during class. Rossi says he told the student “he was a brave young man for coming to see me.” And that’s when he determined he would write a piece critical of what was happening at his school.
Rossi’s school was in the news just last month for another instance of woke extremism:
A New York City private school has issued guidance suggesting that phrases like “mom and dad” and “boys and girls” should be avoided in a push to make the campus more inclusive.
Grace Church School said its 12-page “Grace Inclusive Language Guide” was designed to provide staff with language that fits the school’s mission.
“While we recognize hateful language that promotes racism, misogyny, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination are already addressed in our school handbooks, we also recognize that we can do more than ban hateful language; we can use language to create welcoming and inclusive spaces,” it reads.
If your school is teaching students that “mom and dad” is harmful language, you ought to be thinking about removing your kids. Hopefully parents will hear what Rossi is saying even in the administration at the school does not.