Dad who wrote scathing letter to Brearley about race focus: ‘Someone had to’

A father fed up with an elite Manhattan prep school’s heavy-handed focus on race won’t re-enroll his daughter in the fall, accusing the school of trying to “brainwash” kids with woke philosophies rather than teaching them how to think on their own.

In a scathing 1,700-word letter Andrew Gutmann mailed to 650 families — a screed since gone viral —  he blasted the posh, all-girls Brearley School’s “cowardly and appalling lack of leadership [for] appeasing an anti-intellectual, illiberal mob.”

The April 13 missive  —  published this week on journalist  Bari Weiss’  blog —  became public the same day the headmaster of the famed Dalton School resigned over controversial “anti-racism”  curriculum and policies that had outraged many parents.

Chelsea Clinton, Tina Fey, Drew Barrymore and Steve Martin are among those with daughters enrolled at Brearley. Tuition is $54,000 per year. Famous alumnae of the 761-student, K-12 school include Caroline Kennedy, Jill Clayburgh, Téa Leoni and Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney.

Gutmann’s treatise listed 10 “objections” and generally decried the Upper East Side institution’s obsession with race.

“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.,” he wrote, saying the policies encourage kids to judge, and be judged, by the color of their skin.

Gutmann said the school is "desecrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr."
Gutmann said the school is “desecrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”
Robert Miller

He’s now waiting to see if the school will allow his 12-year-old daughter to finish out the year. She’s been there since kindergarten and hopes to stay until June to complete the sixth grade. Gutmann asked that the Post not identify his daughter.

“She hasn’t been brainwashed yet by the school — but she’s had me at home,” Gutmann said Saturday. “I’m not so sure that’s true of the other kids.”

Gutmann, a wealthy former investment banker who now heads his family’s chemical business, does not regret writing the letter.

He said he grew increasingly concerned and frustrated by what he saw happening at the school. Last year he refused to sign the school’s anti-racism pledge. “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 pledge asks that parents of prospective students explain how their family’s values align with the school’s “commitment to creating an anti-racist and inclusive school community.” The application also states that the school “requires all members, including at least one parent/guardian, to participate in required anti-racist training and ongoing reflection.”

Gutmann said it was all too much for him and he finally put his pen to paper.

“Someone had to do it,” he said. “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 the school managed to sneak in the increased emphasis on race during the pandemic when everyone was distracted. He said the once-rigorous curriculum completely changed over the summer.

“I don’t know who’s really driving this and nobody does,” he said.

His letter’s most controversial claim is objecting to the school’s belief in “systemic racism” and how “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.”

Brearley’s head of school fired back Friday with her own message to the school’s families, calling Gutmann’s letter “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,” Jane 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.”

Gutmann, 45, dismissed the notion that Brearley students would be “frightened” by a letter.

“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.”

Exterior overview of the Brearley School.
Gutmann’s daughter has attended the school since kindergarten and hopes to finish 6th grade there.
Robert Miller

In the letter, Gutmann decried the school’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,” Gutmann wrote.

“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.”

He criticized the school for gutting the traditional curriculum and censoring books while repeatedly telling parents that its first priority is the “safety” of the children.

“For goodness sake, Brearley is a school, not a hospital!” he wrote.

Gutmann said he most resented how “Brearley has begun to teach what to think, instead of how to think.”

Gutmann said he’s received an overwhelming number of supportive emails, from parents at Brearley as well as other private schools in the city.

“There’s a whole underground-like movement out there,” the father of one said.

One of the more than 850 people who have so far commented on blog posted: “This is a masterpiece, and I want to buy this man a drink.”

Others pushed back against Gutmann’s claim that there is no such thing as systemic racism in the country anymore.

“He is wrong,” wrote Matt Mullen. “We need to understand why there are such vast disparities in achievement and wealth between black and white families. And don’t you dare, for one minute, think that there is an easy, simple answer to this question.”

Credit: NYPOST

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