While many are considering the arguments for and against opening school this fall due to COVID-19, few have concerned themselves with another virus that is similarly pervasive and insidious in K-12 education: the closing of the American mind (borrowing Allan Bloom’s seminal book title). Although freedom of thought is endangered at the university, there is now a breeding ground for it at the high school level helping to ensure its extinction.
Woke politics, buoyed by the unrelenting myopic use of race to view all of society’s ills and stoke the growing fear of cancel culture, is taking hold of high school academic curriculums. Call it “AP Indoctrination.” This letter was sent out to the parents at the uber-prestigious Harvard Westlake School (HW) in Los Angeles.
As the millennials say, let’s “unpack” it.
It doesn’t take long before Rick Commons, Laura Ross, and Janine Hancock Jones (it took three administrators to draft this pablum) identify “our nation’s reckoning with systemic racism and injustice…” This, the nation that elected Barack Obama as its 44th president. But I digress, the point of the letter is to let you know that we’ve thought long and hard about our involvement in this injustice. We are predominantly white, so we are simply guilty. But rest easy, HW parents, we now have a strategic plan to be an “anti-racist” (another newly defined term) institution. In other words, the forty grand you plunked down last year went to a bunch of racists. Alas, we have turned over a new leaf.
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To prove ourselves, we spent a sh*tload of your money and hired a diversity officer and “formulated DEI commitments.” And we made up our own definition of systemic racism. We’re that powerful and influential. And since your kid is here, we believe that you are too. We’re good like that.
What is systemic racism according to this triumvirate of treachery? It’s everything. Read it. I mean everything. And we must excise it out of everywhere. Purge this evil. How about in our biology classes: “Addressing the effects of conscious and unconscious bias in…9th-grade biology” and our math lessons: “Assessing word problems in math and rewriting them to be more representative and culturally sensitive.” Wow.
What systemic racism isn’t? Well, that’s left unsaid and is directed at many of our top white and Asian students clawing their way into a spot in an Ivy. They better have lots of money, like a building of it, because the black student at HW is going to lap them in the admission process even if his/her GPA and SAT score are significantly lower. HW feeds the Ivies and other “prestigious” schools, and it better feed them what they want. Toe the party line or that college admissions scattergram you monitor minute by minute is going to flatline.
All the while, The Three Stooges were getting ahead of a Los Angeles Times piece that appeared this past Sunday that could sully their esteemed school’s reputation. Even worse, it may put their own jobs at risk in the era of cancel culture, where the left now eats its own. The article considers anonymous Instagram posts of black HW students suggesting racism at the school. Whether these claims are true or not is beside the point. Veracity is irrelevant. Nothing needs to be confirmed in 2020. That’s why we have cancel culture. It’s like a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. You never happened.
Back to what is happening. There’s virtually NOTHING that won’t be looked at through the lens of race in HW’s divisive curriculum. Some of the more salient points:
“Redesigning the 10th grade World and Europe II course…consider history as a subjective field, rife with biases, open to alternative voices and perspectives, and subject to power dynamics...” In other words, we decide what history is and what it isn’t. The New York Times has already revised history with its “1619 Project,” where it acknowledged as fact that “anti-black racism runs in the very DNA of this country.” We at HW must be on the right side of corrective history. Spare the facts, just feelings, please.
“Engaging The Glasgow Group consulting firm for a full DEI curricular review of our program.“ More of your money well spent because while we pride ourselves on being the most academically challenging school in California, we can’t figure out how to be anti-racist on our own. For that, we turn to consultants who graduated from the schools you’re desperate for your kids to attend. You know, the same institutions that birthed the identity politics agenda that has led to so many unifying “peaceful” protests.
Any woke speakers? “Hosting a 2-hour discussion on systemic racism for upper school students..” I’d love to be a fly on the wall when this thing goes down. What say you? You can barely get your teenager to pay attention to anything longer than a TikTok video. Don’t worry, any eye-rolling will be cause for immediate expulsion. But then you can call upon someone you know who donated a lot more than you did to HW to get you out of the said jam. Oops. Let’s keep that on the down-low.
On to the “Faculty and Staff Hiring and Evaluation” section of this anti-racist tome. The Spark Notes version: Well, good luck if you want a job at HW now or any time soon and you happen to be a white guy.
This self-flagellating picture-perfect rulebook (we made sure to count the number of minority students photographed) ends with an integral part of their mission statement: “Purpose Beyond Ourselves.” And what purpose would that be? Covering our backsides? There’s nothing authentic about any of this. Does this racesplaining HW bible not reek of “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”? If you don’t know Hamlet, read a copy while you still can. It’s written by a white dude whose writings can be seen as not only racist but anti-Semitic. But let’s focus on the racist stuff, please; anti-Semitism is just an off-topic inconvenience. Those Jews.
So there it is, in splendid technicolor. By creating an entire curriculum dedicated to how America is both a repressive and oppressive nation and continues to be so, we collude with the feeder schools that will pick up where we left off. We have no other choice. It’s not who gets into Harvard or Yale. It’s how many. That’s our whole reason for being. We ain’t called “State U Westlake.” But what happens when your non-minority kid who scores a perfect SAT (now optional) and a soon-to-be irrelevant AP-boosted 5.0 GPA doesn’t get into the school that “matters” owing to restrictive race quotas and groupthink? How long will you put up with that? Oh, so now you’re willing to look up from your well-worn copy of White Fragility (well, to be fair, you have carried it in and out of your Tesla on many occasions).
We have you right where we want you, for now. We, the HW intellectuals are the arbiters of the only truth. With our collective wealth and influence, we control the voice of America’s youth. As we continue to embolden an agenda that focuses on skin color first and foremost we defy the very message that greats like Martin Luther King had lived for. He was prescient when considering the consequences of this type of acrimonious groupthink: “Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.”
Rich Cooper has been a mentor to students in grades 9 through 12 for the past 14 years and presides over Cooper Mentors based in Santa Monica, CA.