The head of a New York City private school that has been accused of indoctrinating students with progressive politics and “anti-racist” orthodoxy privately acknowledged that the school is guilty of “demonizing white people for being born,” according to audio from a conversation he had with a whistleblower teacher.
George Davison, the head of Grace Church School in Manhattan, told embattled teacher Paul Rossi in a March 2 recorded conversation that the school uses language that makes white students “feel less than, for nothing that they are personally responsible for.” He also said that “one of the things that’s going on a little too much” is the “attempt to link anybody who’s white to the perpetuation of white supremacy,” according to the recordings posted online.
“I also have grave doubts about some of the doctrinaire stuff that gets spouted at us, in the name of anti-racism,” Davison told Rossi, according to the recordings.
The conversation between Davison and Rossi was posted online this week by the Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism, or FAIR, a civil-rights organization that calls for a “common culture of fairness, understanding and humanity.” FAIR is supporting Rossi, a math teacher who was relieved of his duties at Grace for calling out the school for its “anti-racist” orthodoxy.
Attempts by National Review to reach Rossi and Davison on the phone Tuesday morning were not successful. A message for Grace’s school spokesman was not immediately returned.
Rossi laid out his concerns about the school’s social justice tactics in an essay he published in mid-April on former New York Times opinion editor Bari Weiss’s Substack account. Weiss is a member of the FAIR board of advisers.
“‘Antiracist’ training sounds righteous, but it is the opposite of truth in advertising,” Rossi wrote. “It requires teachers like myself to treat students differently on the basis of race.”
Some groups of students are assigned the “morally compromised status of ‘oppressor,’ based only on “immutable characteristics,” Rossi wrote in his essay. “In the meantime, dependency, resentment and moral superiority are cultivated in students considered ‘oppressed.’”
In his essay, Rossi said he questioned the school’s anti-racist orthodoxy during a “mandatory, whites-only student and faculty Zoom meeting” in February. When his questioning was shared outside of the forum, he said, he was accused by a school leader of causing “harm” to students.
“He informed me that I had created ‘dissonance for vulnerable and unformed thinkers’ and ‘neurological disturbance in students’ being and systems,’” Rossi wrote. “The school’s director of studies added that my remarks could even constitute harassment.”
According to Rossi, a few days later all of the high-school advisers were ordered to read a public reprimand of his conduct out loud to every student in the school.
Rossi expressed his concerns to Davison on March 2, according to the online recordings of their conversation. It was during this conversation that Davison agreed with Rossi that the school’s anti-racism orthodoxy has resulted in the demonization of white people.
“The fact is, that I’m agreeing with you that there has been a demonization that we need to get our hands around, in the way in which people are doing this understanding,” Davison told Rossi.
“OK, so you agree that we’re demonizing kids,” Rossi replied.
“We’re demonizing ki…, we’re demonizing white people for being born,” Davison said.
Rossi published his essay on April 13. Two days later, Davison told Rossi not to report to school, a move that was supposedly for his own safety after a member of the school community threatened him, according to the New York Post. On Sunday, the school sent a letter to Grace parents and staff telling them that Rossi had been relieved of his teaching duties, and that his essay “contains glaring omissions and inaccuracies.”
“It is clear to me that Paul cannot be effective as a teacher at Grace any more,” Davison wrote.
Rossi pushed back in a letter to Davison on Monday morning, writing that “Grace’s public story — the story it is telling to the press and to its own community — has been very different from what you have told me.” He wrote that he suspects the reason Davison has not shared his concerns about white demonization with the broader Grace community is “because you know exactly what happens to people who do — it is what is happening to me right now.”
According to the New York Post, Davison replied and took issue with Rossi’s claims.
“You misquoted me and attributed to me things that I had never said nor would ever say in the press,” Davison replied, according to the Post. “Your actions were unprofessional and I still defended your right to have a point of view. I will not in an email get into a point by point rebuttal because I know that you are not trustworthy given your past performance.”
FAIR tweeted clips of the call between Davison and Rossi just after 8 a.m. Tuesday.
“FAIR stands behind Paul Rossi,” the organization said on its website. “FAIR supports and stands behind all people like Paul who have the courage to stand up for our children, and to advocate for our civil rights and liberties and for a common culture of fairness, understanding and humanity.”