United Kingdom

Father who pulled daughter from NYC's $54K-a-year Brearly School says 'someone had to speak out'

The father who pulled his daughter from Brearly School, the elite New York school which includes Tina Fey and Drew Barrymore among its parents, over its woke antiracism 'obsession' says it's 'teaching what to think not how to think' - as school slams him for being 'offensive.'

Andrew Gutmann, 45, had announced in an April 13 letter posted by Bari Weiss this week that he has chosen not to reenroll his daughter in the all-girls school where tuition is $54,000 yearly. He has now spoken out further about why he wrote it.

Gutmann, who runs his family's chemical business, told the New York Post on Saturday that he penned the 1,700-word letter he mailed to 650 different families because 'someone had to speak out.' He said he does not regret sending the letter.

'She hasn't been brainwashed yet by the school — but she's had me at home. I'm not so sure that's true of the other kids,' Gutmann told the outlet, referring to his daughter.

'Someone had to do it. Someone had to light the match. Everyone's so afraid of cancel culture. We're going to destroy the city, we're going to destroy the country.'  

Andrew Gutmann, 45, had announced in an April 13 letter posted by Bari Weiss this week that he has chosen not to reenroll his daughter in the all-girls school

The Brearley School is a $54K-a-year private school in Manhattan's Upper East Side neighborhood

Jane Foley Fried,  head of the Brearley School, is pictured in an undated photo

Gutmann said he he refused to sign the school's anti-racism pledge in October. 

The school had started the required pledge after black alumnae accused the school of racism in posts made to the Instagram account account 'Black at Brearley,' according to the Washington Free Beacon.

The school's antiracism and diversity plans are extensively described on its website. 

'I thought they were going to kick my daughter out then,' Gutmann said. 'They didn't but next year they have the pledge built into the yearly school contract.'

The concerned dad claimed that the school's 'once-rigorous curriculum' completely changed after administrators 'managed to sneak'  in an increased emphasis on race during the pandemic 'when everyone was distracted,' the New York Post reported.

'I don't know who's really driving this and nobody does,' he told the outlet.

Gutmann said the thing he resented the most about Brearly is that the school 'has begun to teach what to think, instead of how to think.' 

Jane Fried, Brearley's head of school, sent a message to the school's families on Friday in which she slammed Gutmann's letter as 'deeply offensive and harmful.'

'This afternoon, I and others who work closely with Upper School students met with more than one hundred of them, many of whom told us that they felt frightened and intimidated by the letter and the fact that it was sent directly to our homes,' Fried wrote. 

'Our students noted that as this letter, which denies the presence of systemic racism, crossed their doorways, the evidence of ongoing racism – systemic or otherwise – is daily present in our headlines.'

But Gutmann claims that Brearley students should not be 'frightened' by receiving a letter at their homes.

'The upper schoolers are afraid of getting a letter at their home?' Gutmann said Saturday. 

'They're frightened and intimidated? The school has said it's number one priority is to teach the girls intellectual bravery and courageousness. Either they are lying or else they have done an atrocious job.'

It was not immediately clear how Gutmann managed to receive the home addresses of the 650 families to home he sent the letters.  

Gutmann said has received supportive emails from parents across the city.

'There's a whole underground-like movement out there,' he told the New York Post.

Brearley's alumni includes Caroline Kennedy, the actress Tea Leoni, Elisabeth Murdoch, Dorothy Schiff and Alice Gore King.

In his letter, Gutmann mapped out what he called Brearley's 'critical race theory' which he said is 'advocating that Blacks should forever be regarded as helpless victims'.

One of the examples he gave was the school's 'sophomoric' and 'simplistic' anti-training sessions for parents, and the fact that materials that have been taught for years are now suddenly considered offensive in light of the BLM movement.

He didn't say which books had been pulled but said it applied to his daughter's fourth grade class.

Gutmann fumed that the girls are being taught to hate their own country and that white students are being judged for the color of their skin.

He also denied that there was systemic racism in the US, saying there hadn't been since the 1960s.

'Systemic racism, properly understood, is segregated schools and separate lunch counters. It is the interning of Japanese and the exterminating of Jews. Systemic racism is unequivocally not a small number of isolated incidences over a period of decades,' he said.

Jane Fried, head of Brearley, doubled down on the school's position on Instagram, waving Gutmann and his daughter goodbye

This is Brearley's exhaustive anti-racism calendar for the school year of 2020 to 2021 which includes training sessions for parents 

He also called out the school for claiming to care about diversity with its race stances while also prioritizing legacy students, siblings of other students or 'families with especially deep pockets'.

'I cannot tolerate a school that not only judges my daughter by the color of her skin, but encourages and instructs her to prejudge others by theirs.

'By viewing every element of education, every aspect of history, and every facet of society through the lens of skin color and race, we are desecrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and utterly violating the movement for which such civil rights leaders believed, fought, and died,' he said.

Gutmann went on to say that the school was 'indoctrinating' the girls into a single mindset that is 'most reminiscent of the Chinese Cultural Revolution.'

'Over the past several months, I have personally spoken to many Brearley parents as well as parents of children at peer institutions,' he wrote.

'It is abundantly clear that the majority of parents believe that Brearley’s antiracism policies are misguided, divisive, counterproductive and cancerous.'

He added: 'Many believe, as I do, that these policies will ultimately destroy what was until recently, a wonderful educational institution.'

GUTMANN'S FULL LETTER 

April 13, 2021

Dear Fellow Brearley Parents,

Our family recently made the decision not to reenroll our daughter at Brearley for the 2021-22 school year. She has been at Brearley for seven years, beginning in kindergarten. In short, we no longer believe that Brearley’s administration and Board of Trustees have any of our children’s best interests at heart. Moreover, we no longer have confidence that our daughter will receive the quality of education necessary to further her development into a critically thinking, responsible, enlightened, and civic minded adult. I write to you, as a fellow parent, to share our reasons for leaving the Brearley community but also to urge you to act before the damage to the school, to its community, and to your own child's education is irreparable.

It cannot be stated strongly enough that Brearley’s obsession with race must stop. It should be abundantly clear to any thinking parent that Brearley has completely lost its way. The administration and the Board of Trustees have displayed a cowardly and appalling lack of leadership by appeasing an anti-intellectual, illiberal mob, and then allowing the school to be captured by that same mob. What follows are my own personal views on Brearley's antiracism initiatives, but these are just a handful of the criticisms that I know other parents have expressed.

I object to the view that I should be judged by the color of my skin. I cannot tolerate a school that not only judges my daughter by the color of her skin, but encourages and instructs her to prejudge others by theirs. By viewing every element of education, every aspect of history, and every facet of society through the lens of skin color and race, we are desecrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and utterly violating the movement for which such civil rights leaders believed, fought, and died.

I object to the charge of systemic racism in this country, and at our school. Systemic racism, properly understood, is segregated schools and separate lunch counters. It is the interning of Japanese and the exterminating of Jews. Systemic racism is unequivocally not a small number of isolated incidences over a period of decades. Ask any girl, of any race, if they have ever experienced insults from friends, have ever felt slighted by teachers or have ever suffered the occasional injustice from a school at which they have spent up to 13 years of their life, and you are bound to hear grievances, some petty, some not. We have not had systemic racism against Blacks in this country since the civil rights reforms of the 1960s, a period of more than 50 years. To state otherwise is a flat-out misrepresentation of our country's history and adds no understanding to any of today's societal issues. If anything, longstanding and widespread policies such as affirmative action, point in precisely the opposite direction.

I object to a definition of systemic racism, apparently supported by Brearley, that any educational, professional, or societal outcome where Blacks are underrepresented is prima facie evidence of the aforementioned systemic racism, or of white supremacy and oppression. Facile and unsupported beliefs such as these are the polar opposite to the intellectual and scientific truth for which Brearley claims to stand. Furthermore, I call bulls** on Brearley's oft-stated assertion that the school welcomes and encourages the truly difficult and uncomfortable conversations regarding race and the roots of racial discrepancies.

I object to the idea that Blacks are unable to succeed in this country without aid from government or from whites. Brearley, by adopting critical race theory, is advocating the abhorrent viewpoint that Blacks should forever be regarded as helpless victims, and are incapable of success regardless of their skills, talents, or hard work. What Brearley is teaching our children is precisely the true and correct definition of racism.

I object to mandatory anti-racism training for parents, especially when presented by the rent-seeking charlatans of Pollyanna. These sessions, in both their content and delivery, are so sophomoric and simplistic, so unsophisticated and inane, that I would be embarrassed if they were taught to Brearley kindergarteners. They are an insult to parents and unbecoming of any educational institution, let alone one of Brearley's caliber.

I object to Brearley’s vacuous, inappropriate, and fanatical use of words such as “equity,” “diversity” and “inclusiveness.” If Brearley’s administration was truly concerned about so-called “equity,” it would be discussing the cessation of admissions preferences for legacies, siblings, and those families with especially deep pockets. If the administration was genuinely serious about “diversity,” it would not insist on the indoctrination of its students, and their families, to a single mindset, most reminiscent of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Instead, the school would foster an environment of intellectual openness and freedom of thought. And if Brearley really cared about “inclusiveness,” the school would return to the concepts encapsulated in the motto “One Brearley,” instead of teaching the extraordinarily divisive idea that there are only, and always, two groups in this country: victims and oppressors.

l object to Brearley’s advocacy for groups and movements such as Black Lives Matter, a Marxist, anti family, heterophobic, anti-Asian and anti-Semitic organization that neither speaks for the majority of the Black community in this country, nor in any way, shape or form, represents their best interests.

I object to, as we have been told time and time again over the past year, that the school’s first priority is the safety of our children. For goodness sake, Brearley is a school, not a hospital! The number one priority of a school has always been, and always will be, education. Brearley’s misguided priorities exemplify both the safety culture and “cover-your-ass” culture that together have proved so toxic to our society and have so damaged the mental health and resiliency of two generations of children, and counting.

I object to the gutting of the history, civics, and classical literature curriculums. I object to the censorship of books that have been taught for generations because they contain dated language potentially offensive to the thin-skinned and hypersensitive (something that has already happened in my daughter's 4th grade class). I object to the lowering of standards for the admission of students and for the hiring of teachers. I object to the erosion of rigor in classwork and the escalation of grade inflation. Any parent with eyes open can foresee these inevitabilities should antiracism initiatives be allowed to persist.

We have today in our country, from both political parties, and at all levels of government, the most unwise and unvirtuous leaders in our nation’s history. Schools like Brearley are supposed to be the training grounds for those leaders. Our nation will not survive a generation of leadership even more poorly educated than we have now, nor will we survive a generation of students taught to hate its own country and despise its history.

Lastly, I object, with as strong a sentiment as possible, that Brearley has begun to teach what to think, instead of how to think. I object that the school is now fostering an environment where our daughters, and our daughters’ teachers, are afraid to speak their minds in class for fear of “consequences.” I object that Brearley is trying to usurp the role of parents in teaching morality, and bullying parents to adopt that false morality at home. I object that Brearley is fostering a divisive community where families of different races, which until recently were part of the same community, are now segregated into two. These are the reasons why we can no longer send our daughter to Brearley.

Over the past several months, I have personally spoken to many Brearley parents as well as parents of children at peer institutions. It is abundantly clear that the majority of parents believe that Brearley’s antiracism policies are misguided, divisive, counterproductive and cancerous. Many believe, as I do, that these policies will ultimately destroy what was until recently, a wonderful educational institution. But as I am sure will come as no surprise to you, given the insidious cancel culture that has of late permeated our society, most parents are too fearful to speak up.

But speak up you must. There is strength in numbers and I assure you, the numbers are there. Contact the administration and the Board of Trustees and demand an end to the destructive and anti-intellectual claptrap known as antiracism. And if changes are not forthcoming then demand new leadership. For the sake of our community, our city, our country and most of all, our children, silence is no longer an option.

Respectfully,

Andrew Gutmann

Football news:

Griezmann spoke with Hamilton and visited the Mercedes boxes at the Spanish Grand Prix
Barcelona feels that Neymar used it. He said that he wanted to return, but extended his contract with PSG (RAC1)
Aubameyang to the Arsenal fans: We wanted to give you something good. I am sorry that we could not
Atletico did not lose at the Camp Nou. Busquets' injury is the turning point of the match (and the championship race?)
Verratti injured his knee ligaments in PSG training. Participation in the Euro is still in question
Neymar's contract in one picture. Mbappe wants the same one
Manchester United would like to sign Bellingham in the summer, not Sancho. Borussia do not intend to sell Jude