New Trier High School is holding a mandatory All-School Seminar Day on Feb. 28, which is supposed to cover diversity topics. But the program — called “Understanding Today’s Struggle for Racial Civil Rights” — is incredibly flawed. It’s not in the least bit diverse. Instead, it seeks to educate white students about their “inherent bias” — and will feature radical speakers and workshop topics as part of the program.
The high school, in the suburbs north of Chicago on two separate campuses in Winnetka and Northfield, Illinois, has 4,000 students and an annual per-pupil expenditure of $25,000, according to Betsy Hart, a parent with two children in the high school. Hart and other parents have tried to talk to the administration about their concerns over the program, including the paid speakers at the event who have a radical agenda.
For example, Monica Trinidad, who is scheduled to teach a class called, “We Charge Genocide: An Emergence of a Continued Movement,” once posted to Twitter a picture of police on horseback with the caption, “Get them animals off those horses.” Her other divisive posts included a picture of her self-described “light reading” of a book entitled, “Conspiracy to Riot in Furtherance of Terrorism.”
Planned topics during Seminar Day for these high school students include: “Disney and Racial Stereotypes,” “Tracing Food Inequality: Food Deserts In Chicago,” and “Understanding Implicit Bias: Being Biased Doesn’t Make You a Bad Person.”
“A perusal of the list of workshops being offered makes it clear this will be more about white privilege and less about solutions,” said Hart, who notes that the student body of New Trier is about 80 percent white. “They [the administration] are not really interested in challenging the kids — we want them to think for themselves, and we want diverse discussions. Let’s also talk to some black ministers who are doing amazing work to reach kids before they join gangs. If we teach that all racial disparities are systemic racism — that means you can never talk about the things that would really help the black community. It’s a real lost opportunity.”
Chicago attorney Joseph Morris described the seminar to Illinoisfamily.org as “a rather bold and raw effort at hard-left propaganda with decidedly anti-American, anti-free-market, anti-family, anti-parent, and bigoted biases on display.”
Concerned parents have created the website Parentsofnewtrier.org. They’re suggesting qualified alternative speakers and explaining their issues with Seminar Day.
“Peer review studies (e.g., from the Harvard Business Review in 2016) increasingly show that diversity programs like this create more harm than they do good, because they reinforce racial stereotypes and resentments,” the website notes.
Parents have tried to get involved — only to be shut out by the school.
“I called the school and offered ideas — I said, ‘Great, if you’re going to do this, I have some people I think could speak to these issues that I didn’t see it last year,'” said Hart. (A very similar program was held on Martin Luther King Day last year, and many students stayed home.) “People who could cover entrepreneurship, choice in education, how we stem the tide of violence and gangs — a lot of what actually goes into the disparity between blacks and whites.”
Hart said she was told by a vice principal that the program for the day was “put together by faculty and students.”
LifeZette called the New Trier High School administration for comment, but did not hear back as of publication time.
Hart and other parents don’t want to do away with Seminar Day — they simply want more balance inserted into the program, or for the school to postpone it until that happens.
“Parents have to know the bias of [the program] — and the lack of really good information,” she said. “We have Chicago just a few miles away. These city kids are getting murdered, and 80 percent are African-Americans. It’s a horrible situation. An area that was once thriving with African-American businesses and culture is now devastated by violence, and we’re up here on the north shore diverting half a million dollars of resources to talk about white privilege?”
Hart identifies the obvious departure from the school’s communications model when it comes to Seminar Day.
“The school [usually] loves to alert parents — you have to sign off on their coursework for the year, and I just signed something last night that said I had seen grades, and there are permission slips all the time. But with Seminar Day, there was no mechanism through which the parent could be informed and involved in the panels the kids are choosing. No mechanism to know what my child has chosen, or to help direct their choosing. And if it’s happening at New Trier, it’s probably happening in similar ways all over the country,” said Hart.
Parents questioning the event also question a link to the radical progressive group S.E.E.D. The “Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity Project” is a national organization that trains educators and students on race from an “identity politics” viewpoint, including “oppression” and “white privilege.”
“One of the people coordinating the conference at New Trier is also on the staff at S.E.E.D.,” said Hart. “I’m sure she does a great job, but it’s concerning to us that she is connected to this messaging of white privilege and radical progressivism.”
Parents could excuse their kids for the day if they object to the proposed material, but “if [their kids] are like mine — very involved in theater and sports — if you excuse them for the day, they don’t get to participate in sports that night,” said Hart.
This agenda-laden, unbalanced, and ultimately unenlightening program is on the taxpayer dime, and has been in the works for months. “It’s costing half a million dollars, and it’s a huge drain of resources,” said Hart. “It’s not just the day. It’s the lead-up, the time that teachers and admin are putting into it — the extreme focus on this. When they say, ‘We want kids to be critical thinkers,’ well, no, they don’t — they are offering nothing but clichés and different iterations of the word ‘racist.’ It is said more than 75 times in the program,” Hart continued.
“We are excited about what could be done with this type of seminar day — but they’re calling the program ‘courageous,’ and as it stands now, it’s not.”