New Trier hailed for calling off future 'white privilege' seminars
Free speech and common sense prevailed over nonsense and nastiness at New Trier High School, a nonprofit litigation center president said on a radio show recently.
Liberty Justice Center President Pat Hughes applauded the school's decision to end the controversial and mandatory day-long "white privilege" seminar on the conservative radio program "Illinois Rising."
"What these people in New Trier were doing was leftist virtue signaling," he said. "And then there was the nastiness. So what these New Trier parents stood up against was being called 'racist.' That's the worst thing in our society that you can be called. And they stood up to that say, 'Look, this is nonsense.' Now they've laid the path out of courage for people to follow."
Hughes comments followed the district administrator's announcement that the seminar would not take place next year because of the effort involved.
"The excuse is that it was too much work," Hughes said. "What's interesting about this is that nothing is accomplished in one day. So, if they really believed in this stuff, if this really was the important thing that we needed to this discourse on, it wouldn't just be one day, and it wouldn't be cancelled the very next year. It's clearly a cover story. They clearly felt the blowback. It blew up the community quite a bit and rightfully so."
Hughes is co-founder with Dan Proft of the Illinois Opportunity Project. Proft is also a principal of Local Government Information Services, which owns this publication.
The school seminar, "Understanding Today’s Struggles for Racial Civil Rights," stirred protests, partly because it included statements about police being urban terrorists without allowing alternative opinions. That was the oft-repeated opinion of approximately 800 people who attended a New Trier High School board meeting in February, a little more than a week before another seminar was planned.
Opponents argued that the seminar wasn't balanced, was too liberal and failed to provide a conservative voice. They also set up a website and circulated petitions to allow students to opt out if their parents approved. A parents group requested that the seminar include opposing views, but the request was denied.
The controversy was covered nationwide, including in a Wall Street Journal editorial, "It’s Racial Indoctrination Day at an Upscale Chicagoland School."
Hughes said the problem wasn't the issues being discussed but how they were presented.
"Let's discuss all of them openly," he said. "Or at the very least, if it's not going to be open, let the kid opt out or let the parent opt out."
Mandatory or not, students apparently did just that during February's seminar. More than 950 students stayed home, and a sizable number who participated in a post-seminar survey complained about the content and said they would have liked to have heard different viewpoints.
The decision not to repeat the seminar in 2018 was announced during New Trier's April school board meeting.
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