Public Schools

Dad says NYC DOE public schools are ‘brainwashing’ kids

Written by Mamie M. Arndt

Henry Jones* is a married 49-year-old father of a daughter, 12, and son, 8, who are enrolled in two different public schools in Manhattan’s District 2. Worried about the identity politics agenda that’s increasingly dominating his children’s education, Henry, who is white, reached out to The Post. Here, he reveals his fears that his kids’ curriculum has gone too far: 

In 2017, our 5-year-old son came home from kindergarten and said he was studying a famous teenage transgender girl in school. I’d never heard of her, but he said her name was Jazz Jennings (formerly a boy who transitioned a few years ago and has so far had three gender reassignment surgeries.) 

I knew his school was liberal, so in the beginning I didn’t worry too much. But I did tell the principal I thought it was inappropriate. He disagreed. He told me, “We would never teach something inappropriate.” 

Not long after that, our son came home and told me the teacher said it was wrong to give little girls pink toys and little boys blue toys. That same year, teachers urged my son and his classmates to march around the school chanting, “Pink and blue is for everyone!” in a gay-rights walk. 

In 2018, my son and daughter were in the same elementary school, and their principal started involving parents as if they were part of the problem, too. We were told to read Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow” and Ibram X. Kendi’s book, “How to Be an Antiracist.” I read both books, and had issues with them both. Alexander argues that the war on drugs is racist. This is crazy talk because drugs were and still are devastating the black community. Kendi says that unless you’re actively pushing for “equity” all the time, you’re racist. So, for example, the city wants to abolish testing for its more competitive schools because there aren’t enough black kids passing the test. But this lowers the bar for everyone. In my opinion, this so-called anti-racism is hurting black people. 

This year, my daughter’s 7th-grade reading material is about how blacks are being persecuted, like Kendi’s book “Stamped” and anti-police books, such as “Children of Blood and Bone” and “Ghost Boys.” Some of what she’s reading is fair. Still, I’d love it if she could read a few of my favorite authors from high school, like Nathaniel Hawthorne or F. Scott Fitzgerald. But that would be considered racist and supremacist according to school thinking. 

Two anti-racism texts: "The New Jim Crow" and "How To Be An Antiracist"
“Parents of children in a New York public school were told to read these anti-racism books.

In math class this year, my daughter’s teacher told her the only reason white people voted for Trump was that they wanted to hold on to their white privilege. Whether you voted for Trump or not is beside the point. What has that got to do with teaching math? 

My son just came home asking me if Christopher Columbus was as bad as his school says. His teachers told him Columbus enslaved people when he got to the New World. They made it sound as if Columbus didn’t even care about discovering a new trade route to Asia; he just wanted to enslave people. 

I’ve warned my son that his teachers may be brainwashing him, so he asks me about this stuff. But lots of kids don’t have anyone else to fact-check what they’re learning or get the other side of the story. And kids look up to teachers so much, they think they have all the answers. (There are black and white teachers in both my kids’ schools.) 

My daughter’s 7th-grade humanities curriculum focuses on encouraging students to become activists. The way they do that is by teaching kids America has a history of discrimination and racism, and that it is currently racist and discriminatory. Then they show examples of people who have protested against the system. 

For example, my daughter learned that it was discriminatory for the Washington Redskins to name their sports team after Native Americans, and that Native Americans protested the name. But it was never pointed out that the team probably named itself after something they admired back in the day. A team doesn’t name itself after something it feels is inferior. 

NYC Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza and Mayor Bill de Blasio
Chancellor Carranza and Mayor de Blasio have led the charge for an anti-racism curriculum.
James Messerschmidt

It’s not that my kids’ teachers are all wrong. It’s that they present their lessons with no nuance or gray areas. Whites are all wrong or all racist, and blacks are only oppressed victims, and women and girls are always discriminated against. 

This year I complained to my daughter’s teachers about how they were telling kids about salary discrimination against women in certain fields while omitting some key facts that gave context to the issue. Women were just being presented as total victims. 

I got a note from the principal that it was inappropriate to talk to my daughter’s teacher about this. She told the teachers not to communicate with me anymore. So that’s that.

They believe they are doing a good thing in promoting an anti-racist curriculum. But, actually, they’re creating resentment between the races by telling black people that white people are inherently bad and hate them. This leads to the very racism they say they’re trying to prevent. 

I grew up partly in New York on the Upper West Side and when I was young, you’d see all these kids playing in the yard at recess — black, white, Hispanic, Asian, whatever — and they all got along great. 

Now you have the schools teaching white kids they should feel guilty and that black kids should resent them. It’s sad. 

I think kids should be taught to be proud of their country. It’s a place many people still want to come to, after all. They should be taught about the good parts of capitalism as well as free speech. Instead, kids are taught to look down on their country, and they’re afraid to speak up. 

It’s strange as a parent to feel you have so little agency. The kids know it, too. They know they can’t speak up or they risk angering their teachers and maybe losing their friends. 

I wish I had a plan for how parents could fight back. But I don’t. This madness is infecting all schools. There’s nowhere to run. To be frank, it’s frightening. I’m voicing my concerns here because it’s the only outlet I have. 

— As told to Dana Kennedy. *Henry’s name has been changed, as he fears school principals and teachers could retaliate against his children if he went public. 

About the author

Mamie M. Arndt