Wednesday, March 10, 2021

The Cultural Revolution in American Education

Over the past several months I have been following the ideologically driven destruction of New York City’s private and public schools. These schools no longer teach; they indoctrinate. They no longer prepare children to have an exalted place in society; they teach children how to be social justice warriors.

Even so, one is shocked and appalled to read Bari Weiss’s article in the City Journal. (via Maggie's Farm) Weiss, having been chased out of the New York Times for being Jewish, now writes independently. She researched the way America’s best private schools-- that would be, those in California and New York-- are destroying the minds and the souls of America’s children.

She refers to the miseducation of the elites, but clearly, the children who are indoctrinated in this swill are not going to be elite for very much longer. They are being destroyed by woke teachers who pretend to be advancing the cause of social justice.

As for where the new leaders will be coming from, look outside of these blue state redoubts-- because there is more to life than New York and California. And consider the point, which Weiss does not mention, that Asian parents will not put up with this nonsense. At best, America’s new leaders will not have been brought up in fancy New York private schools. They will not be issuing forth from Ivy League schools. 

If they have any sense at all corporate hiring managers will soon be ending their efforts to recruit staff at these places. State schools might take up the slack. And, of course, Asian students will gravitate toward STEM subjects in state schools. If they are not going to do so, then our future elites will come from places like Shanghai and Singapore.

Weiss opens her piece by describing a meeting she had in Los Angeles, with parents of children who attend the toney Harvard-Westlake school:

In a backyard behind a four-bedroom home, ten people sat in a circle of plastic Adirondack chairs, eating bags of Skinny Pop. These are the rebels: well-off Los Angeles parents who send their children to Harvard-Westlake, the most prestigious private school in the city.

By normal American standards, they are quite wealthy. By the standards of Harvard-Westlake, they are average. These are two-career couples who credit their own success not to family connections or inherited wealth but to their own education. So it strikes them as something more than ironic that a school that costs more than $40,000 a year—a school with Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s right hand, and Sarah Murdoch, wife of Lachlan and Rupert’s daughter-in-law, on its board—is teaching students that capitalism is evil.

So, these children are not taught to compete in the world. Moreover, they are being taught that their parents, whose capitalist enterprise is paying for the school, are evil. It’s a form of brainwashing, perfected by the Chinese Communist Party-- when it really was a Communist Party. Turn children against their parents in order to overcome their filial piety and to make them into good cadres.

Weiss continues:

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.

Dare we say that this is going to boomerang, against black students. They will likely be blamed when brainwashed white students blow out their college boards and fail to get into college.

As for open debate and discussion about the topic, it is strictly verboten:

The parents in the backyard say that for every one of them, there are many more, too afraid to speak up. “I’ve talked to at least five couples who say: I get it. I think the way you do. I just don’t want the controversy right now,” related one mother. They are all eager for their story to be told—but not a single one would let me use their name. They worry about losing their jobs or hurting their children if their opposition to this ideology were known.

And also, social shaming will destroy the life of anyone who steps up to dissent. Again this is a cultural revolutionary tactic. 

That fear is shared, deeply, by the children. For them, it’s not just the fear of getting a bad grade or getting turned down for a college recommendation, though that fear is potent. It’s the fear of social shaming. “If you publish my name, it would ruin my life. People would attack me for even questioning this ideology. I don’t even want people knowing I’m a capitalist,” a student at the Fieldston School in New York City told me, in a comment echoed by other students I spoke with. (Fieldston declined to comment for this article.) “The kids are scared of other kids,” says one Harvard-Westlake mother.

Besides rendering children stupid, this new regime is destroying their emotional well being and mental health:

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?”

Obviously, these elite schools and he elite colleges they feed are not going to remain elite for very long:

That is not the only reason this story matters. These schools are called prep schools because they prepare America’s princelings to take their place in what we’re told is our meritocracy. Nothing happens at a top prep school that is not a mirror of what happens at an elite college.

What does it say about the current state of that meritocracy, then, that it wants kids fluent in critical race theory and “white fragility,” even if such knowledge comes at the expense of Shakespeare? “The colleges want children—customers—that are going to be pre-aligned to certain ideologies that originally came out of those colleges,” says a STEM teacher at one of New York’s prestigious prep schools. “I call it woke-weaning. And that’s the product schools like mine are offering.”

How bad is it? Weiss reports:

A Harvard-Westlake English teacher welcomes students back after summer with: “I am a queer white womxn of European descent. I use [ she | her ] pronouns but also feel comfortable using [ they | them ] pronouns.” She attached a “self-care letter” quoting Audre Lorde: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

Parents have been told that this is the best that America has to offer. They are being told that they need to conform. They might do better to move out of New York and Los Angeles, to find a good education for their children and an atmosphere where people can discuss ideas openly and honestly:

Fluency in woke is an effective class marker and key for these princelings to retain status in university and beyond. The parents know this, and so woke is now the lingua franca of the nation’s best prep schools. As one mother in Los Angeles puts it: “This is what all the colleges are doing, so we have to do it. The thinking is: if Harvard does it, it must be good.”

And then:

To question any of the curricular changes, parents say, is to make yourself suspect: “Every group chat I’m on with school parents, with the exception of my concerned parents’ group, they have a pattern of shaming anyone who shares anything remotely political or dissents from the group narrative,” one Brentwood mother wrote to me. “Once someone shames one person, many chime in agreement. The times I speak up to defend those they shame, they attempt to shame me.”

Some students and parents are rebelling:

Some students are rebelling, which, in this case, looks like becoming a Republican. But others go all-in on the ideology, which has created conflicts with parents who don’t. “The school has taken over as the moral guide, with me being the irritating person in the background who doesn’t really get it,” says one Harvard-Westlake mother.

So children learn how the new rules of woke work. The idea of lying in order to please a teacher seems like a phenomenon from the Soviet Union. But the high schoolers I spoke with said that they do versions of this, including parroting views they don’t believe in assignments so that their grades don’t suffer.

If this is not child abuse, the term has no meaning. Parents are obviously looking for other private schools:

Relying on word of mouth, parents are trying to suss out which, if any, of the private schools in their city avoid this ideology. They ask me what I know. “I don’t know where to move him to. I yank him and it’s the same thing. But I have a pit in my stomach about sending him back for third grade,” says a mother at Riverdale Country Day School in the Bronx, in a concern echoed by many parents. (Riverdale declined to comment.)

Obviously, public school is not an option. Among the reasons, local public schools in these places are just as woke as the private schools:

Most alarmingly, the ideology is increasingly prevalent at the local public school. The incoming New York City schools chancellor is a vocal proponent of critical race theory. In Burbank, the school district just told middle- and high school teachers to stop teaching To Kill a Mockingbird and Of Mice and Men. The Sacramento school district is promoting racial segregation by way of “racial affinity groups,” where students can “cultivate racial solidarity and compassion and support each other in sitting with the discomfort, confusion, and numbness that often accompany white racial awakening.” The San Diego school district recently held a training in which white teachers were told that they “spirit murder” black children.

“I don’t mean to get emotional, I just feel helpless,” said one mother through tears. “I look at the public school and I am equally mortified. I can’t believe what they are doing to everybody. I’m too afraid. I’m too afraid to speak too loudly. I feel cowardly. I just make little waves.” Another tells me: “It’s fear of retribution. Would it cause our daughter to be ostracized? Would it cause people to ostracize us? It already has.”

This means one and only one thing-- it’s time to move.


David Foster said...

"These schools are called prep schools because they prepare America’s princelings to take their place in what we’re told is our meritocracy."

It is extremely important to distinguish meritocracy from credentialism. Peter Drucker wrote about this 50 years ago, asserting that a major advantage America had over Europe was the absence of domination by a few 'elite' educational institutions:

"One thing it (modern society) cannot afford in education is the “elite institution” which has a monopoly on social standing, on prestige, and on the command positions in society and economy. Oxford and Cambridge are important reasons for the English brain drain. A main reason for the technology gap is the Grande Ecole such as the Ecole Polytechnique or the Ecole Normale. These elite institutions may do a magnificent job of education, but only their graduates normally get into the command positions. Only their faculties “matter.” This restricts and impoverishes the whole society…The Harvard Law School might like to be a Grande Ecole and to claim for its graduates a preferential position. But American society has never been willing to accept this claim…"

America today is much nearer to accepting that claim than it was when Drucker wrote the above.

Also from Drucker:

"It is almost impossible to explain to a European that the strength of American higher education lies in this absence of schools for leaders and schools for followers. It is almost impossible to explain to a European that the engineer with a degree from North Idaho A. and M. is an engineer and not a draftsman. Yet this is the flexibility Europe needs in order to overcome the brain drain and to close the technology gap."

Again, this is a strength that is being systematically liquidated.

Sam L. said...

Why do Democrats hate children????

nishdoogedacht said...

@Sam L.

Because they have so few themselves. I wouldn't worry, Sam. In another generation or two things will sort themselves out as those people die off without progeny. Problem is do we have that much time?

KCFleming said...

Year Zero.

IamDevo said...

How much time remains to sort this all out? Consider 2 Timothy 3:

But understand this: In the last days terrible times will come. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, without love of good, traitorous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. Turn away from such as these! They are the kind who worm their way into households and captivate vulnerable women who are weighed down with sins and led astray by various passions, who are always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.

I'd have to say little time remains. Act accordingly.