Thank you so much for this. I am a public school teacher and attended public school for most of my life. I spent six moths at a Catholic school in middle school and it was the most depressing time of my academic career. I actually intentionally failed classes in order to go to my local public school. The only other time I experienced similarly negative experiences was when I attended Penn and NYU. I almost didn’t graduate because I couldn’t take all the racism I encountered there.
That said, this behavior is not relegated to private schools. It may be more common; I don’t know. Nonetheless, I regularly hear students and teachers express similar hardships at elite public schools like Lowell, which is one of the oldest schools west of the Mississippi by the way. Many parents and children of color tell me they have “survived” it. And there is currently a contingent of families at the school who regularly make racist comments about Black families, both online and in person.
As an educator, and education consultant experienced at addressing systemic racism and bias, I know school culture has less to do with individual student or families and more to do with leadership. “You get what you accept,” I always say. Teachers and school leaders may espouse an appreciation of tolerance and cultural respect for all people. Nonetheless, it is when people look the other way that we see what they truly value.