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"Independent" schools are doubling down on DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) to hide their failures.
Our schools are being “reimagined” in real time with lowered academic standards and an assault on merit as DEI (a euphemism for CRT) ideology metasticizes from colleges to secondary and primary schools. Just yesterday, NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio announced plans to end gifted and talented education in NYC’s public schools. The parallel war on merit in the name of “equity” leads to disastrous results in our “independent” schools.
National Merit Semifinalist Numbers Tank
National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists (the top percent of PSAT takers) were recently announced with shocking results for many “independent” schools. NYC’s top ranked private, Trinity, had only 3 Semifinalists. Atlanta’s Westminter Schools took a nosedive. Dalton had an embarrassing 1 Semifinalist. While each year fluctuates, privates have had a general downward trend for numbers of students on the list each year:
A Case Study
Always one step ahead, Amy Gonzalez and Andrea Gross, former Columbus Academy parents, documented this back in May for the school:
As recently as 2018, Columbus Academy boasted that “30 percent of students in each graduating class at Columbus Academy earn recognition from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.” That claim is no longer true. The four most recent years have seen the lowest levels of National Merit recognition since at least 2013 (Pro CA was not able to obtain accurate data from prior to 2013). Just 8% of students from the Class of 2021 received recognition as either a semifinalist or finalist.
What’s behind this dramatic decline? Increasingly, classes at Columbus Academy consist of unnuanced, reductionist, and divisive lectures about white privilege and gender identity. Even math classes are reduced to political sermonizing. Moreover, professional development offered to faculty now focuses almost exclusively on extreme leftist political theories, including intersectionality and critical race theory.
The “new” Columbus Academy may be successful at creating students who are well-versed in the woke political language of today. But this increased focus on political activism necessarily comes at the expense of rigorous academic study. There are only so many hours in the day and there is only so much space in the hearts and minds our children. When our school prioritizes political activism, what’s left for other, seemingly “less important” topics—math, science, English, and history? The answer is apparently a lot less than in 2013…
NAIS-Led DEI Mania
Even though CA Gov. Patrick Bateman dba Gavin Newsom signed a bill making CRT a high school graduation requirement and the U.S. Conference of Mayors approved a resolution to adopt CRT in public K-12 schools, the media, politicians, and teacher’s union czar Randi Weingarten repeatedly deny that CRT is taught in schools. In contrast to the publics, privates openly boast about their increasing obsession with DEI. Cornell law professor William Jacobson has collated an impressive collection of CRT programming in at least 25 top privates and counting, including but not limited to, Choate, Deerfield, Groton, Harvard-Westlake, Horace Mann, Exeter, St. Mark’s, St. Paul’s, Hotchkiss, Lawrenceville, and College Preparatory at: https://criticalrace.org/elite-private/.
At the direction of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), which provides countless frameworks in every possible DEI category for schools to adhere in order to obtain accreditation, private schools are eradicating the very academic standards and merit-based systems that distinguished them in favor of subjective “whole child” “becoming global citizens” markers that are not quantifiable. One such degradation of academic standards is NAIS’ push for “grading for equity” as a guise to help students who have “fewer resources” and are “historically underserved” – DEI euphemisms for replacing merit-based grading with a reward system based on group identifiers. Because – obviously, expecting students to complete assigned homework is racist. Now, even rigor and grit are racist and ableist. https://www.nais.org/magazine/independent-school/summer-2021/the-dark-side-of-rigor/. Talk about the soft bigotry of low expectations!
With NAIS leading our schools in prioritizing DEI programming over real academic learning judged on objective criteria, it’s no wonder there is a decline in National Merit Semifinalists. Coupled with similar free falls in elite college admissions, it appears that “independent” schools are doubling down on DEI to hide their failures.
This begs the continued question – what are we paying for? Privates are increasingly becoming woke country clubs in a country increasingly hostile to country clubs.
Note: Our previous Substack, “You Better Check Yo Self Before You Wreck Yo Self,” detailed Panorama Education - the for-profit company funded by Zuckerberg and Chan that contracts with school boards across the country to buy our children’s SEL data. This week, one solitary mom uncovered the glaring conflict of interest that AG Merrick Garland’s son-in-law is the co-founder of Panorama Education. Then suddenly this week, only one week after the National School Board Association sent a letter to Joe Biden asking for the federal government to investigate parents as domestic terrorists, AG Garland issued a statement instructing the FBI to do exactly that. Strange coincidence, don’t you think?!