The father of a Brearley School student has pulled her from the school, citing its practice of “anti-racism” as the catalyst in a lengthy April 13 letter he wrote and sent to the almost 600 private school families.
The letter was made public when the father, Andrew Gutmann, sent it to former NY Times journalist Bari Weiss, who published it on her website and shared it on her Twitter feed, which as of writing has gotten over 2,600 responses.
A father at Brearley pulled his daughter out of the school and sent this absolute barn-burner of a letter to every family in the school. Is the dam starting to break? https://t.co/sJj2h3SrXj
— Bari Weiss (@bariweiss) April 16, 2021
Gutmann’s daughter had attended the $54,000 per year private all-girls school, located on East 83rd Street, for seven years.
He opened his letter with a statement that his family “no longer believe[s] that Brearley’s administration and Board of Trustees have any of [their] children’s best interests at heart,” adding that he no longer believes their “daughter will receive the quality of education necessary to further her development into a critically thinking, responsible, enlightened, and civic minded adult.”
He outlined the reasons for their decision, and in doing so aimed to warn other families of the implications of keeping their daughters enrolled.
Gutmann began his argument by stating that “Brearley’s obsession with race must stop.”
He then got into some more specific criticisms, many of which sparked many objections on both Twitter and in Weiss’ comment section.
Here are some of the criticisms Gutmann made in his letter (which are followed by a statement from The Brearley School):
- ” … 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.”
- Gutmann objects to the idea of systemic racism existing in the country, and to the fact that this belief is held and taught by Brearley teachers. He writes, “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.”
- He “object[s] 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.”
- The private school dad is not a fan of Brearley’s “anti-racism training[s] for parents,” calling them “sophomoric and simplistic” and “unsophisticated and inane.”
- He took issue with the school’s use of certain words like “equity” and “diversity” when describing its student body, arguing that its apparent preferential admissions treatment towards “legacies, siblings, and those families with especially deep pockets” contradicts this belief system.
- Gutmann also argued that Brearley’s stance on diversity should include diversity of thought, stating that the school has “insist[ed] on the indoctrination of its students, and their families, to a single mindset, most reminiscent of the Chinese Cultural Revolution.”
- Gutmann’s letter states that “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.”
- The father indicated that the UES school had practiced forms of censoring history and literature for the sake of protecting those who are “thin-skinned and hypersensitive,” and that “Brearley has begun to teach what to think, instead of how to think.”
Gutmann wraps up his letter by stating that he’s spoken to many other parents of Brearley students and students at “peer institutions,” and says the majority of those he’s spoken to “believe that Brearley’s antiracism policies are misguided, divisive, counterproductive and cancerous.”
The NY Post reported that Brearley’s Head of School, Jane Fried, responded to Gutmann’s letter on Friday, April 16, with the following statement.
“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. 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.”
We’ve reached out to The Brearley School for further comment.