Paul Rossi Lives Not By Lies
Today Bari Weiss publishes an essay by Paul Rossi, a teacher who no doubt will be fired for writing it. It starts like so:
I am a teacher at Grace Church High School in Manhattan.Ten years ago, I changed careers when I discovered how rewarding it is to help young people explore the truth and beauty of mathematics. I love my work.
As a teacher, my first obligation is to my students. But right now, my school is asking me to embrace “antiracism” training and pedagogy that I believe is deeply harmful to them and to any person who seeks to nurture the virtues of curiosity, empathy and understanding.
“Antiracist” training sounds righteous, but it is the opposite of truth in advertising. It requires teachers like myself to treat students differently on the basis of race. Furthermore, in order to maintain a united front for our students, teachers at Grace are directed to confine our doubts about this pedagogical framework to conversations with an in-house “Office of Community Engagement” for whom every significant objection leads to a foregone conclusion. Any doubting students are likewise “challenged” to reframe their views to conform to this orthodoxy.
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.
What follows are a series of descriptions of life in this ideological madhouse, stories that could have come straight out of the Soviet Union. They thoroughly vindicate the sense that the Soviet-bloc emigres I interviewed for Live Not By Lives have that a new form of totalitarianism is taking root in America. Excerpt:
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.”
All of this is done in the name of “equity,” but it is the opposite of fair. In reality, all of this reinforces the worst impulses we have as human beings: our tendency toward tribalism and sectarianism that a truly liberal education is meant to transcend.
Recently, 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. My goal was to model for students that they should feel safe to question ideological assertions if they felt moved to do so.
It seemed like my questions broke the ice. Students and even a few teachers offered a broad range of questions and observations. Many students said it was a more productive and substantive discussion than they expected.
However, when my questions were shared outside this forum, violating the school norm of confidentiality, I was informed the head of the high school that my philosophical challenges had caused “harm” to students, given that these topics were “life and death matters, about people’s flesh and blood and bone.” I was reprimanded for “acting like an independent agent of a set of principles or ideas or beliefs.” And I was told that by doing so, I failed to serve the “greater good and the higher truth.”
He further informed me that I had created “dissonance for vulnerable and unformed thinkers” and “neurological disturbance in students’ beings and systems.” The school’s director of studies added that my remarks could even constitute harassment.
A few days later, the head of school ordered all high school advisors to read a public reprimand of my conduct out loud to every student in the school. It was a surreal experience, walking the halls alone and hearing, simultaneously, the words emitting from each classroom: “Events from last week compel us to underscore some aspects of our mission and share some thoughts about our community,” the statement began. “At independent schools, with their history of predominantly white populations, racism colludes with other forms of bias (sexism, classism, ableism and so much more) to undermine our stated ideals, and we must work hard to undo this history.”
Students from low-income families experience culture shock at our school. Racist incidents happen. And bias can influence relationships. All true. But addressing such problems with a call to “undo history” lacks any kind of limiting principle and pairs any allegation of bigotry with a priori guilt. My own contract for next year requires me to “participate in restorative practices designed by the Office of Community Engagement” in order to “heal my relationship with the students of color and other students in my classes.” The details of these practices remain unspecified until I agree to sign.
Believe me, there’s so much more. Read the whole thing. You had better, if only to know the kind of bad, crazy place this fanatical “antiracist” ideology leads, so you can protect your school from it.
Grace Church School is a school “in the Episcopal tradition.” Here, from the school’s Episcopal Identity page, is part of what that means. Emphasis below mine:
Third, fourth and fifth graders take Bible class, which meets once a cycle all year in grades three and four, and for a half year in grade five. The third and fourth grades read Hebrew scriptures, and the fifth grade focuses on the New Testament. These sacred texts are taught neither as truth, nor as literature. Rather, they are presented as a body of powerful stories that have moved millions over thousands of years and serve as truth to those for whom they are true.
If you want to know what the real religion of Grace Church School is, go to the Antiracism, Equity, and Belonging page. Oh boy, is it a festival of upper-class Manhattan liberal crackpottery. Here is an excerpt from the school’s Inclusive Language Guide:
Parents pay $46,000 per year for this kind of indoctrination.
I’m sure Paul Rossi will be fired, or they will at least make it impossible for him to continue. If you want to hire an Ivy-educated (Cornell) mathematics teacher who is a man of courage and character, read the whole essay at Bari Weiss’s Substack; it contains an e-mail address on which you can write him. He also wants to hear from other teachers stuck in situations like his. Also, there’s information about a Clubhouse discussion tonight at 6pm Pacific time that Bari’s going to hold with Paul Rossi to talk about this problem.
UPDATE: A reader comments:
We cannot save Grace Church School, but we can still save our local institutions. If you notice Wokeness or CRT or transphilia creeping into your parish, YOU have to fight back. If your school, or university, or company is being infiltrated, YOU have to fight back. Do not assume anyone else will come to your aid. You can’t save the country, but dammit you can prevent the rot from spreading to your community. Do not assume you are too young or too old or too soft spoken or too socially awkward. There is no one better to fight back than you. Moses was an 80 year old geezer who literally needed Aaron to talk for him because he was so painfully shy. And yet he freed his people and brought the most powerful empire to its knees. Have faith in God.
He’s right. You need to keep your eyes wide open for this stuff coming to your kids’ school, and fight like hell against it if it does. Do not be intimidated by them calling you a racist or other names. If you don’t stand up, and convince other parents to stand up, you will lose the institution.