The Attack on Anti-Racist Curriculum: Unlikely Coincidence or Coordinated Effort?

This article will be referencing events that occurred as detailed in this timeline.

Over the past couple of weeks, variations of the phrase “it seems like it’s never-ending” have been echoing within many circles of the Grace community. The constant barrage of news stories, some directly disparaging our school and others taking down other private institutions, has been at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Yet, any news-watching citizen would have expected this story to phase out of the news cycle weeks ago. This observation turns that original observation into a question: Why does this feel never-ending?

The Grace Gazette discovered that these events might be related. 

Over and over again, various actors in this story reference the newly-formed Foundation Against Racism and Intolerance (FAIR). Paul Rossi, a former mathematics teacher at Grace Church High School, has mentioned FAIR and its mission numerous times in his article and in various subsequent interviews. He, and several others, are a part of this movement. They may even be on the FAIR board. 

FAIR was founded by former Riverdale parent Bion Bartning in March of 2021. The website does not showcase any major achievements of the group or any actions the group has taken, but rather highlights its mission statement. This statement alludes to anti-racist work as “a cynical and intolerant orthodoxy.” The site also names public figures who have joined the organization since its founding. 

The board of advisors includes journalists Megyn Kelly and Bari Weiss who have each played a major part in propelling Rossi’s story. The group also includes Maud Maron, a New York City council candidate, and journalists John McWhorter and Thomas Chatterton Williams, who have publicly and repeatedly attacked anti-racist work. Andrew Gutman, a former Brearely parent who wrote a letter speaking out against Brearley’s anti-racist curriculum, and Rossi have both become a part the group.

All FAIR members play a part in propelling the work of other members. Weiss and Kelly have both hosted Rossi as a guest on their respective shows. They have also called attention to the work of other FAIR members like Williams and McWhorter. Additionally, the FAIR website has published both Rossi’s article and leaked recordings between Rossi and George Davison, the Head of Grace Church School. 

Retrospectively, it appears that Rossi had his sights set on entering this FAIR sphere long before his article was published. On Feb. 4, around two months before the release of his article, Rossi accepted a nomination by Jonathan Weiss to a group on the platform Clubhouse, where he later participated in his first interview following the release of his piece during the week of Apr. 13. A prominent member of the group was Bari Weiss herself, who originally posted Rossi’s article, with the post-script “I am extremely proud to publish this piece by Paul Rossi.” His quiet entrance into this group on the platform, coupled with his abrupt “breaking of silence” sponsored by Weiss feels more calculated previously thought. 

An “underground network of parents” in New York City and throughout the country who are “fighting what they believe is the undue focus on race by schools as part of the new ‘woke’ culture.” 

– Harvey Goldman, Former Heschel Parent

Much of this could be perceived as a coincidence rather than a coordinated effort. However, the most telling piece of this puzzle lies in a statement made by Harvey Goldman, the former Heschel parent. Goldman is reported by multiple publications including the New York Post to have referenced an “underground network of parents” in New York City and throughout the country who are “fighting what they believe is the undue focus on race by schools as part of the new ‘woke’ culture.” 

The implication here seems obvious; there are parents, teachers, and public figures across New York City who are in contact and belong to the same institutions, all attempting to eradicate anti-racist curriculum in a semi-coordinated manner. 

The consequences of these efforts are clear: hundreds of hate-driven phone calls, increased security, and media backlash against the schools implicated in the various articles and interviews. Students, teachers, administrations, and even parents have all been affected in more ways than one. For further insight into the opinions and feelings of Grace students and teachers, read this survey conducted by the Grace Gazette. It is still unclear whether or not there is more to come from Rossi or from FAIR. But maybe while the school holds its breath, the voices of the students can fill the silence.