To the editor:
(re: “Another racism lawsuit targets Fieldston,” May 13)
Not a day goes by lately where a New York City prep or private school doesn’t find itself in the news, painted with broad brush strokes for being either too racially inclusive, or not racially inclusive enough. Or, in today’s parlance, too “woke” — or insufficiently so.
Dalton, Spence, Fieldston, Brearley, Chapin have all taken their turn in the news for a variety of reasons. I am in no position to judge the validity of any of these stories, so I intend no criticism or judgment either way.
The takeaway from these stories is that schools in general appear to be constantly trying to strike a balance between two extreme opposing ideologies. On the one hand, the idea that racism is inherently and systemically American, with all people being categorized and judged by the color of their skin. While on the other hand, the idea that there is nothing wrong here, and nothing to see, so let’s just move along.
This debate is exceedingly multi-faceted, nuanced, and mixed with many truths and mistruths, so that there can be no simple answer that will satisfy anyone. I do not pretend to know the solution to any of this. I do, however, claim to know of a place that exemplifies a middle ground, a light on the hill if you will, that appears to have remained above the fray.
The Horace Mann School in Riverdale is that place. Under the steady hand of headmaster Tom Kelly, Horace Mann has continued to be all things to all people. Racial diversity has constantly increased on his watch, along with an atmosphere that encourages a free flow of independent ideas and philosophies from everyone: students, professors and staff members.
As if to prove the naysayers wrong, Dr. Kelly has managed all this without ceding an inch to academic excellence. Horace Mann is still one of the most highly regarded institutions in the nation as reflected in its college acceptances and multiple national rankings.
Is Horace Mann a place without flaws? Of course not. Horace Mann is, however, an academic institution where an ever-growing number of students from dissimilar ethnicities, races and creeds create a community overflowing with a diversity of culture and thought that mixes freely with a variety of skills in scholarship, the arts, athletics, and so much more.
Horace Mann is leading by example during these difficult and tumultuous times. Dr. Kelly, his professors, and staff members should all be commended.