An English teacher at a $52,000-a-year private school in Englewood, New Jersey, has quit her job because the school teaches critical race theory to students.
Dana Stangel-Plowe, who taught at the Dwight-Englewood School in Bergen County, accused the school of creating a “hostile culture of conformity and fear” in its letter of resignation on Tuesday.
Stangel-Plowe said school principal Rodney De Jarnett told the entire faculty he would fire everyone if he could to replace them with people of color. She also accused the school of segregating teachers based on their skin color.
Her letter of resignation was published by the Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism, (FAIR), an organization created to challenge the tenets of critical race theory in school.
The organization said Stangel-Plowe is an “award-winning teacher” and a graduate of Cornell University, as well as a published poet, in highlighting her credentials.
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Dana Stangel-Plowe, who taught at the Dwight-Englewood School in Bergen County, accused the school of creating a “hostile culture of conformity and fear”
Stangel-Plowe said school principal Rodney De Jarnett told the entire faculty he would fire everyone if he could to replace them with people of color
She also accused the school, pictured, of segregating teachers based on their skin color, pondering whether the school would racially segregate its students.
“I became a teacher at Dwight-Englewood because as a parent I loved how the school nurtured and challenged my own children. Today I’m resigning from a job I love because DE has changed in a way that undermines its mission and prevents me from staying true to my conscience as an educator,” she wrote.
‘I think DE is letting our students down. In recent years, the school has embraced an ideology that is detrimental to the intellectual and emotional growth of our students and destroys any chance of creating a genuine community among our diverse population.”
She added: “I reject the hostile culture of conformity and fear that has gripped our school.”
Stangel-Plowe argued that the school’s ideology requires students to “see themselves not as individuals, but as representatives of a group, forcing them to assume the status of privilege or victimization.”
“They have to situate themselves within the oppressor or oppressed group, or some intermediate middle where they have to take into account that they are part oppressor and part victim. This theory of power hierarchies is only one way of seeing the world, and yet it pervades DE as the unique way of seeing the world,” she wrote.
Stangel-Plowe wrote that her students would arrive in her classroom and accept critical race theory as fact.
‘People born with less melanin in their skin are suppressors, and people born with more melanin in their skin are suppressed. Men are oppressors, women are oppressed, and so on. This is the dominant and divisive ideology that guides our adolescent students,” she wrote.
Stangel-Plowe claimed that critical race theory would hinder her students’ ability to “read, write, and think.”
‘I teach students who shy away from a poem because it was written by a man. I teach students who approach texts in search of the oppressor. I teach students who see inequalities in texts that have nothing to do with power,” she wrote.
‘Students have internalized the message that we read and think about the world in this way and as a result fixate on power and group identity. This fixation has hindered their ability to observe and interact with the full fabric of the human experience in our literature.’
Stangel-Plowe added that she felt the school failed to teach “intellectual curiosity, humility, honesty, reason, and the ability to question ideas and consider multiple perspectives.”
“In our school, the opportunity to hear competing ideas is practically non-existent,” she wrote.
She added: “Unfortunately, the school leads many to become true believers and outspoken proclaimers of a regressive and illiberal orthodoxy.”
“Understandably, these students have found comfort in their moral security, and so they have become rigid and narrow-minded, unable or unwilling to consider alternative perspectives,” she wrote.
“These young students have no idea that the school has put ideological blinders on them.”
She said not all students are “true believers” and claimed that many pretend to agree “because of the pressure to conform.”
“I’ve heard of students who want to ask a question but stop for fear of offending someone. I’ve heard of students not participating in discussions for fear of being banned,” Stangel-Plowe wrote.
Critical race theory teaches that racism is a social construct used to oppress people of color, and that it is present in almost all aspects of daily life.
Its supporters say the theory helps to alleviate the obstacles that BIPOC (black, indigenous and colored people) face in their daily lives that their white counterparts don’t have to worry about.
Teaching critical race theory has become a cultural lightning rod in recent months, especially when taught in schools. Critics argue that it is unnecessarily divisive, teaching young children that they are victims or oppressors from an early age.
Stangel-Plowe claimed that a student would not even complete a personal essay about an experience she had abroad for fear the essay would be racist.
In her fear, she actually stopped herself from thinking. This is the definition of self-censorship,” Stangel-Plowe wrote.
Stangel-Plowe claimed that in 2019 she tried to “introduce positive and constructive alternative views” but that they fell on “deaf ears”.
“You have expressed your displeasure, but I have heard no follow-up from you or other drivers. Since then, the stifling conformity has only grown,” she wrote.
“Last fall, two administrators informed the faculty that certain points of view would simply not be tolerated during our new ‘race-explicit’ conversations with our new ‘anti-racist’ work. They said no one should question the orthodoxy regarding “systemic racism.” The message was clear and the faculty was silent in response.’
Documents provided by FAIR show the chic school’s lessons on whiteness
Stangel-Plowe added that the faculty members are permeated with fear and that the school principal Rodney De Jarnett told the entire faculty that he would fire everyone if he could to replace them with people of color.
‘At a recent faculty meeting, teachers were segregated on the basis of skin color. Light-skinned teachers were placed in a “white caucus” group and asked to “remember” we are “white” and to “take responsibility for [our] power and privilege,” she wrote.
“DE’s racial segregation of educators, intended to cause us to rethink ourselves as oppressors, was regressive and demeaning to us as individuals with our own moral compass and human agency.”
Stangel-Plowe then wondered if the school was going to racially segregate its students.
“I reject DE’s essentialist, racist way of thinking about myself, my colleagues and my students,” she wrote.
“Neither the color of my skin nor the ‘group identity’ that DE assigns to me dictates my humanistic beliefs or my work as an educator.”
She added: “To be told that it is is insulting and wrong, and it violates my dignity as a human being. My conscience has no color.’
Joe Algrant, the principal of Dwight-Englewood’s Upper School, told the… New York Post that he could not comment on human resources.
“In this case, all I can say is that a few months ago Mrs. Stangel-Plowe informed us that she would not be coming back next school year,” he said.
Multiple other expensive private schools have also made headlines about CRT in recent months. The elite Dalton school in Manhattan saw some parents lash out at its alleged obsession with critical race theory.
And Grace Church School — another private facility in NoHo — has fired math teacher Paul Rossi after speaking out against CRT.
Another high-profile critic, banker Andrew Gutmann, announced plans to expel his daughter from Manhattan’s elite Brearley school because of his concerns with CRT.