Education

Big Chalk and the Shrinking of Young Minds

The headline on the front page of today’s Australian (May 1,  paywalled) doesn’t mince words, ‘A nation of cretins: class revamp fail’, the report beneath it detailing what the pedagogic poobahs of the post-modern education Establishment wish to do to the national curriculum and, mercifully, that state and federal education ministers aren’t keen on the proposed emphasis on what might be termed the Three As — Aborigines, Alarmism, Activism.

The Australian quotes University of Queensland emeritus professor Kenneth Wiltshire as calling for the abolition of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, whose proposed ‘reforms’ were released this week for public comment. According to Wiltshire, “We will create a nation of cretins awash in a world where they have no understanding of the history of civilisation, human thought, human philosophy, values or principles.”

Misery, they say, loves company, but there is scant comfort in knowing that Australia’s schools are not alone in promoting the fashionable and politically correct memes of the day at the expense of genuine learning. In New York, the rot became too much for one father, Andrew Gutmann, to tolerate. Reproduced below, his open letter to the board of Manhattan’s Brearley School, where tuition runs to around $50,000 a year. Switch the proper nouns and he might well be writing of Australia’s educational malaise and the long-marchers of Big Chalk who are perpetrating it.rf

________________________

 

Dear Fellow Brearley Parents,

Our family recently made the decision not to re-enroll 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 bullshit 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

9 comments
  • Harry Lee

    The factor of cretinism in the populace is already well beyond critical mass.
    Evidence abounds.
    Note that whereas the mainstream media, the education systems, and the legal system already pave the way for and encourage the advancement of cretinism, there is no sign of pushback from the higher-ups in any walk of life.
    The nominally anti-cretinist/anti-marxist elites have left the field of battle.
    Across the waterfront of all our institutions -political, legal, public sector admin, education, news/opinion, media, and now even Big Biz and Big Investment- the landscape is dominated by the appeasement of, indeed the power-surge of anti-Westernist cretinism.
    Unlike Lib politicians and some actors in Big Biz, the big power-holders in all the public sector institutions listed above are free to act as they wish, in their private lives and in their work lives-
    -with no scrutiny and no holding to account regarding the destructive effects of their marxist/anti-Westernist activities on the lives of Ordinary People, nor in their use of tax-payer created funding to destroy the mechanisms of Western Civ.

  • Biggles

    Part of the KGB’s method of subverting a nation was to draw attention AWAY from western philosophical, cultural and educational norms by replacing them with false, misleading and mind-numbing thought.
    The introduction of such things as ‘inclusiveness studies’, ‘diversity studies’, ‘gender studies’, ‘Aboriginal studies’, ‘climate change’, etcetera, are examples of the Left’s technique as regards modern Australian schooling from K1 to Y12.
    To echo the words of William Casey, Director of the CIA in the 1980s, ‘We will know our disinformation program is complete, when everything the public believes is false’. The Labor/Greens and the teachers’ unions would surely say ‘amen’ to that.

  • Ian MacKenzie

    Immensely heartening to see someone pushing back against the tide of ignorance engulfing us all.

  • March

    Thanks Roger for posting this. I have forwarded on to the ACARA engagement email address as the basis of my complaint. Kids are already awash with the three A’s.

    Daughter had an assignment to look at environmental issues at our local creek. She found a near pristine location and was worried she would be marked down because of it. Good grief.

  • STD

    An education that encapsulates the complete travesty of Justice ( the right to know). The left’s sole aim is the betrayal of truth, hence the denial of objective thought that leads to the evolution of consciousness . In short the denial of conscience. A class action is what is needed here your Honour.

  • STD

    Ps, for children to be taught that which is contrary to the wish’s of their parents, leads to the alienation from one’s self, and ultimately the dismemberment of the nuclear family. Marxism has never passed the muster of truth, and by its nature it never will.

  • Necessityofchoice

    I agree with Harry Lee.
    The problem is much wider than education. I have coined an acronym in an attempt to encapsulate the extent of the problem.
    BBBAMPS
    BANKS, BIG BUSINESS, ACADEMIA, MEDIA, POLITICIANS and SCHOOLS
    I’m not sure how you tackle a cabal like this, particularly when access is via politicians, in thrall to the remainder !

  • Harry Lee

    Necessityofchoice -excellent elements in your acronym.
    To me, the chance of re-establishing a proper Western society now seems slim.
    The best that might be done is what is shown in the literature and movies of the Total Catastrophe Genre, namely:
    The very few remaining tough, capable, wise people band together and defend themselves in small enclaves/forts, while raising their children to perceive and deal with reality.

  • lhackett01

    Prompted by Advance Australia, I have written to the PM, Hon Alan Tudge MP (Minister for Education and Youth), and the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) as follows:

    Re: Draft Australian National Curriculum

    I ask you, please, to oppose the proposed changes to the National Curriculum because it will indoctrinate our children with ideas very biased towards woke agendas and deny them fact and truth.

    This curriculum will not only erase what we proudly have achieved as a nation, but it will shape our future for the worse. Students won’t learn about what made Australia great, such as freedom of speech or equality before the law. Australia’s proud Judeo-Christian heritage and Western traditions must be taught to students because these values are the real basis of Australian society.

    Especially worrying is the emphasis on Aboriginal ‘history’ and story-telling. Australian indigenous history studies spanning the past 60,000 years are to replace the traditional study of history that shaped the rise of civilization to the present day.

    Future Australian students will graduate knowing nothing about the great civilizations of the past, civilizations that through their efforts and interactions created much of the world’s human story and development. Instead, our graduates will ‘know’ about selected elements of Aboriginal history as passed down through various lineages via ‘remembered’ word-of-mouth creative stories (the Chinese whisper game aside). Presumably, the curriculum input will be provided by the likes of the charlatan Bruce Pascoe, who distorts and misinterprets Aboriginal history as was recorded in writing by early settlers after 1788. Students will ‘know’ that Aborigines arrived in one wave of occupation instead of the more likely three sequential waves of different peoples needed to explain the basic genetic differences within the Australian Aboriginal population. Students will ‘know’ about Aborigines inventing democracy, environmental control of the Australian landscape via fire, employing agricultural practises in growing crops, and so much more; mostly unsubstantiated nonsense.

    How can this be so? No competent politician or authority would sacrifice our students and, hence, future Australian attitudes by kowtowing so completely to woke and Aboriginal causes.

    Please reject this radical proposal to protect our nation and our children’s education and, please, ensure this email is forwarded to the appropriate politicians and authorities for action.

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