Bari Weiss reports in City Journal on a disturbing phenomenon: prep school parents who are afraid to speak out against what their children are being taught in prestigious private schools.
Weiss begins her foray into this world by sitting in on a clandestine, backyard meeting of such parents. Their kids are learning about the evils of capitalism at Los Angeles’ tony Harvard-Westlake. Apparently, such Harvard-Westlake board members as Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s associate, and Sarah Murdoch, daughter-in-law of Rupert and wife of Lachlan, are okay with this.
The parents worried aloud about the effect of such teaching on their kids. Weiss writes:
For most parents, the demonization of capitalism is the least of it. They say that their children tell them they’re afraid to speak up in class. Most of all, they worry that the school’s new plan to become an “anti-racist institution”—unveiled this July, in a 20-page document—is making their kids fixate on race and attach importance to it in ways that strike them as grotesque.
“I grew up in L.A., and the Harvard School definitely struggled with diversity issues. The stories some have expressed since the summer seem totally legitimate,” says one of the fathers. He says he doesn’t have a problem with the school making greater efforts to redress past wrongs, including by bringing more minority voices into the curriculum. What he has a problem with is a movement that tells his children that America is a bad country and that they bear collective racial guilt.
. . .
The atmosphere is making their children anxious, paranoid, and insecure—and closed off from even their close friends. “My son knew I was talking to you and he begged me not to,” another Harvard-Westlake mother told me. “He wants to go to a great university, and he told me that one bad statement from me will ruin us. This is the United States of America. Are you freaking kidding me?”
Weiss spoke with dissatisfied but afraid prep school parents all over the country. I must confess that I wondered (as did Weiss) why a parent would not take a kid out of such a school. Would it be so awful, for example, to find a parochial school or maybe one of those emerging classics schools where “white fragility” is not taught instead of Shakespeare?
So, what about these parents? Weiss writes:
The parents in this story are not parents with no other options. Most have the capital—social and literal—to pull their kids out and hire private tutors. That they weren’t speaking out seemed to me cowardly, or worse.
The cynical answer for their silence: concern about viability for the Ivy League and other elite schools. “There are definitively rumors that the school has like, say, three picks for Duke and that if you stand up against this your kid will get blackballed,” says one mother.
Another explanation is groupthink and social pressure. “Sometimes the smartest people are the easiest ones to fool,” says a father who recently moved his son from one school to another that he judges to be marginally better. “If you made a decision to go on the board of Dalton having espoused all these leftist views forever and you want your kid to get into Harvard, you are not going to stand up and say, ‘wait a second, guys.’ You’re just not going to do it. Most people want to be members of the club.”
I think it’s true that many people would rather violate their stated principles than be iced out of their social network. But this is a situation that goes beyond getting shunted to a bad table at the Robin Hood gala. To resist this ideology is to go against the entire institutional world.
It’s not just the private schools. This is spreading to the public schools. Christopher Rufo reports (also in City Journal) on the proposed ethnic curriculum for California public schools. Rufo writes:
California parents should be concerned. Under the guise of “equity” and “empowerment,” activists within the public education system have developed this radical new curriculum in order to transform California schools into factories for left-wing political activism. They have recast the United States as an oppressor nation that must be deconstructed and subverted through politics. The curriculum’s vision statement makes this aim explicit: it presents education not as a means of achieving competency, but as a “tool for transformation, social, economic, and political change, and liberation.”
The curriculum features Aztec chants to a rather unappealing deity who demanded human sacrifices. I can’t help thinking of these kids as human sacrifices to wokeness.