The father who pulled his daughter from an elite Manhattan private school over its overzealous anti-racism policies says he never intended his scathing letter to go viral but now welcomes the controversy he sparked.
‘What the school is saying, what all these schools are saying, is that if you don’t agree with us, we don’t want a dialogue, don’t even want your kid in our school,’ Andrew Gutmann told DailyMail.com during an exclusive interview at his home.
‘They shove it down our throats. Honestly, I have no problem if people disagree with everything I wrote. But there has to be a dialogue. That’s my point.’
Gutmann penned the letter last week and explained his decision to withdraw his daughter from the $54,000-a-year school, near Gracie Mansion on the Upper East Side.
He blamed much of the problem on Covid, saying schools were able to roll out reforms without any real fight from parents.
‘I wrote the letter for my daughter’s school, not for the world,’ Gutmann said. ‘I did not write the letter to try to change Critical Race Theory nationwide. I certainly didn’t expect this to blow up like it did. I did not appreciate how widespread this issue was until I started to receive emails and messages from all over the country.’
Andrew Gutmann, 45, wrote a letter blasting the $54,000 a year Brearley School over its woke antiracism ‘obsession’. Gutmann told DailyMail.com in an exclusive interview that he never intended his scathing letter to go viral but now welcomes the controversy he sparked
Gutmann penned the letter last week and explained his decision to withdraw his daughter from the $53,000-a-year school, near Gracie Mansion on the Upper East Side, pictured
Gutmann said, ‘People have been overwhelmingly supportive, with many people telling me they’re having these same issues in their schools and that my putting this out has helped them speak up.’
He even received words of support from Paul Rossi, a math teacher at Manhattan’s Grace Church School who was forced out of the classroom this week after he penned his own letter criticizing his school’s anti-racism agenda.
‘I wrote the letter for my daughter’s school, not for the world,’ he said. ‘I did this because I’m a concerned dad and it felt like it was the right thing to do’
Gutmann returned the compliment and said he looks forward to eventually meeting Rossi. He noted a third party is currently arranging to make that meeting happen.
‘I’ve gotten a lot of emails saying I’m brave, but what Paul did was a hell of a lot more courageous than what I did,’ Gutmann said. ‘I could do this because I didn’t feel I was cancellable. I don’t work for Goldman Sachs or a big law firm. Paul actually risked his job.
‘Most parents are still afraid to speak out given the cancel culture,’ Gutmann continued. ‘That’s why I wrote the letter. Because I know and I do believe that more than half the parents have similar views to me. Not that they all agree with everything I wrote, but there is agreement that there’s been no dialogue possible.’
He went on to blame a lot of the problem on Covid.
‘My view is that this never would have happened absent Covid because you would have had pushback, you would have had parents meet, you would have had parents barging into these heads of school’s offices,’ Gutmann said. ‘But we were not allowed into the building and parents were not getting together, making it very hard to communicate. Yes, this educational movement has been going on for a while, but this wouldn’t have gone through so quickly without Covid.’
Gutmann now found himself in heavy demand, particularly from conservative news sites.
‘Fox keeps calling me, all different programs,’ he said, but noted he’s rejected these requests. ‘I did not do this for fame and fortune. I did this because I’m a concerned dad and it felt like it was the right thing to do.’
He said his daughter will finish out the remainder of the school year from home, taking classes online. After that, he said, he’s thinking of home schooling her with ‘more of a classic, secular education.’
‘We would love to find some other educationally like-minded families and see if we can set up some kind of pod, some kind of nontraditional home school,’ Gutmann said. ‘I’ve had so many people reach out.’
He is also working on a follow-up to his Brearley letter. For one, he wants to do a better job explaining one statement he made — that systemic racism no longer exists in the United States.
‘I know that was the biggest criticism of the letter,’ he said. ‘If I had to rewrite the letter, I would clarify that. I am by no means denying there is racism. Of course there is racism. I am making the distinction between racism and systemic and institutional racism. I will be publishing a follow-up piece within the next few days and I will elaborate on that.’
The letter was the talk of the school on Monday morning and nearly every parent had read the scathing remarks but were divided in their reactions – with some labeling the father a racist and others agreeing he had some valid points
Students were seen arriving to school at The Brearley School in New York City in the wake of Andrew Gutmann’s bombshell open letter about ‘race obsessed’ private school
The letter was the talk of the school on Monday morning and nearly every parent had read the scathing remarks but were divided in their reactions – with some labeling the father a racist and others agreeing he had some valid points.
‘He’s f*****g crazy – for him to say there’s no systemic racism and to send it in a letter that’s three pages long to every parent in the school, outing himself and his daughter,’ one father told DailyMail.com as he dropped his second-grade daughter off at the school on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. ‘It’s insane. And the worst part, I know there are parents that agree with everything he said.’
‘It’s sad but it is what it is,’ the father continued. ‘I’m a black parent and this is a white institution, I know that. There are rick white folks here who don’t even talk to their kids about how to engage with black people. There’s going to be racism everywhere you go. But the school’s doing its best. I wouldn’t haven’t my daughter here if I thought otherwise.’
He even received words of support from Paul Rossi, (pictured) a math teacher at Manhattan’s Grace Church School who was forced out of the classroom this week after he penned his own letter criticizing his school’s anti-racism agenda
Another father of a third-grader told DailyMail.com that ‘to be honest, I wasn’t happy to see the letter’ by Gutmann, but added, ‘I didn’t think it was such a bad thing to actually have someone express their views and put his name and email on it. It could encourage more people to write back and have an honest conversation.’
‘My take is that letter had a lot of ignorance in it,’ the father continued. ‘But this is the real world and I can’t expect everyone to think the way I think. I’m also happy the school has taken a stand as to how they feel and the values they’re going to support and uphold. I’m supportive of some of these changes.’
He wondered whether Gutman would show up to the school with his daughter.
‘I’m sure the friends are going to know and that’s going to be tough on her,’ he said.
Another parent at Brearley described it as a ‘pretty angry letter,’ but said, ‘I think he did make one really good point, which is about the freedom to have a different opinion. I mean, it’s gotten really bad where you can’t even question critical race theory. There’s a sense of menace, that if you don’t agree, that if you ask questions, they’re most unwanted.
‘When my daughter says at the dinner table that I’m a racist and I’m not doing anything about it, I find that disturbing,’ the father said. ‘I think people are really afraid to speak up.’
Another parent whose daughter is in fourth grade supported Gutmann speaking out.
‘My wife and I don’t 100 percent agree with the letter, but we believe that it delivered the right message,’ he said. ‘The head of school sent a letter out Friday calling it deeply offensive. We don’t view it that way.
‘Some of the concerns Gutmann raised were delivered a little too aggressively. But here’s the point. The whole anti-racism thing in the school goes too far. The school should spend more time focusing on education. This mandatory anti-racism training for the parents, which the letter mentions. Much of this goes too far. We don’t want to move our kids, but there’s a lot of concern from the parents. We want the focus to be on education.’
A mother dropping off her two daughters at Brearley student called the letter ‘incredibly upsetting.’
‘I think his views are just disgusting,’ she told DailyMail.com. ‘The letter was offensive and my girls are very upset. I think the school’s taking these issues very seriously and doing a really good job of trying to make it a schoolwide effort to combat racism, which I think is imperative in society right now.’
Another father of a third-grader told DailyMail.com that ‘to be honest, I wasn’t happy to see the letter’ by Gutmann, but added, ‘I didn’t think it was such a bad thing to actually have someone express their views and put his name and email on it. It could encourage more people to write back and have an honest conversation’
Another parent whose daughter is in fourth grade supported Gutmann speaking out. A teacher is seen checking temperatures before students enter school
Gutmann, who works for 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.’
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 Brearley 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.’
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
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.
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.