Andrew Gutmann has faced an onslaught of media attention in recent days since sending former New York Times editor Bari Weiss a scathing letter addressed to Brearley parents, saying the $54,000-a-year institution's "obsession with race must stop" and criticizing its "antiracism initiatives" as divisive.
The investment banker-turned-software developer told Fox News his family has "received much private support," but added that there "is still an enormous amount of fear" for parents "to speak up publicly" if they take issue with certain school initiatives and curricula, especially those regarding sensitive topics such as race.
"I stand by what I said in my letter than I believe more than half of families are privately very unhappy with the direction of the school and its antiracism initiatives," he said.
If he could give advice to parents grappling with similar concerns, Gutmann said parents should "try to find families that are like-minded and speak out together ... anonymously if necessary, but publicly if possible."
"At the very least, try to educate yourself on the language and tactics of critical race theory so you understand what schools are doing and can begin to counteract," he continued. "If nothing else, try to 'de-indoctrinate' your child at home, which gets harder and harder as they get older because of peer pressure. Most importantly, recognize you are NOT alone."
Weiss, the reporter and editor who published Gutmann's letter, founded the Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism (FAIR), a nonpartisan organization "dedicated to advancing civil rights and liberties for all Americans, and promoting a common culture based on fairness, understanding and humanity" in educational institutions and elsewhere.
Gutmann said he plans to "get involved" in the organization.
In his letter to parents posted to Weiss' Substack publication, Gutmann condemns Brearley for displaying a "cowardly and appalling lack of leadership by appeasing an anti-intellectual, illiberal mob," adding that the school judges his daughter by her skin color and "instructs her to prejudge others by theirs."
Brearley, which touts a student body in which 55% are students of color, details an extensive, year-old diversity and equity initiative for the 2020-2021 school year on its website.
The school founded in 1884 includes both a "diversity, equity and inclusion statement" as well as an "antiracist statement" on its website.
The former says the school "believes that diversity of thought, practice and identity are essential elements in preparing students for principled engagement in the world" while the latter encourages Brearley's "faculty, staff, students, parents and trustees to pursue meaningful change through deliberate and measurable actions" including "participating in antiracist training," among other things.
Brearley also requires at least one parent or guardian to participate in "required anti-racist training and ongoing reflection." Application forms require parents to share how one's "family values align with the School’s commitment," according to documents reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon.
Gutman argues in his letter, however, that the school does not practice what it preaches.
"I object to Brearley’s vacuous, inappropriate, and fanatical use of words such as 'equity,' 'diversity' and 'inclusiveness,'" he wrote. "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."
He added that 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" and would instead "foster an environment of intellectual openness and freedom of thought."
Social media posters applauded Gutmann's letter and passion, even as Brearley Head of School Jane Fried doubled down on its position. Fried said students were "frightened and intimidated" by the fact that the letter was sent to their homes.
Further, Fried said Gutmann's letter "failed both in content and delivery" to "engage ... with respect for one another."
Brearley shared a letter from Pace University law professor Alexander K.A. Greenawalt addressed to Guttman with Fox News. Greenawalt says Guttman's argument fails to spark "any real debate about Brearley’s policies."
"Overall, your letter does a great job at lobbing over-the-top insults at the school," Greenawalt wrote to Gutmann. "Less successful is its ability to convey actual facts that would allow a fair assessment of your arguments, to the extent those arguments are discernible."
Greenawalt adds that his observations are not meant to "suggest that there is no room for criticism or debate with respect to the Brearley curriculum."
Gutmann's concerns are not new; parents in and outside New York City have expressed skepticism with certain antiracist teachings, saying they sometimes appear to drive a wedge between students and families.
The New York City father said he initially chose Brearley for his daughter because he thought it would give her "the best, and most well-rounded education and help her develop into a confident, intellectually fearless young woman" and because he thought his family would be "joining a community of families that especially valued education, rather than just being there for the status symbol."
But because of the school's recent antiracism initiatives, some "parents say they are now less likely to make playdates with kids of other races or reach out socially with parents of other races because they are fearful of 'saying the wrong thing' or because they just want to avoid any discussions of race," Gutmann added.
"I believe these antiracism initiatives are incredibly divisive and counterproductive, lead to more segregation, and have severely damaged the sense of community," he said.