New Trier Doubles Down on
Racial Equity Agenda

Plans to host district-wide Equity Summit for New Trier feeder district schools this summer

Meanwhile reading test scores have fallen by 17 percentage points since 2017 

Mandatory Diversity, Equity and Inclusion – also known as “DEI” – training has been the rage in education for several years, including Stanford University’s forcing of Jewish employees to participate in a "Whiteness Accountability" affinity group to “explore how the advantages of whiteness interact with their identities, with their work and in the world." Criticizing DEI has consequences, such as when Massachusetts Institute of Technology (“MIT”) canceled a climate change lecture by University of Chicago Associate Professor, Dorian S. Abbot, who had criticized higher education’s DEI agenda on social media.

However, recent events, including at Stanford and MIT, indicate the tide may be turning. Last month, Stanford placed its law school’s DEI Dean on leave after she assisted student obstruction of a speech by a Trump-appointed federal appellate judge; the Dean of the law school issued a 10-page letter defending Stanford’s apology to the judge and reiterating the value of free speech. And at an April 2023 MIT-sponsored debate about the value of DEI, even the pro-DEI debaters agreed that DEI has “been hijacked” (58:04), “gone off the rails” (1:13:34), and “need[s] reform” (54:07).   

But no such shifts are taking place at New Trier High School. 

At its March 20, 2023, board meeting, New Trier reiterated its commitment to “equity” (i.e., DEI) by announcing plans to hold an “Equity Summit” this summer for all New Trier feeder districts (57:00-1:01:00 & 1:15:00-1:18:00). 

At the meeting, New Trier board members and administrators uniformly affirmed their commitment to push New Trier’s DEI/equity work “down” into every North Shore elementary school, with Superintendent Paul Sally noting this is “K-12 work” “just like English and Math” (1:16:45), and “up” into each North Shore home. (Equity Liaison Pat Savage Williams explained that “[w]e have access to the students” and “[s]tudents are the best way to get to the families” (1:41:30).)

Outgoing New Trier school board member Brad McLane claimed that “Culture, Climate, and Equity” was “the most important” plank of New Trier’s Strategic Plan and urged the board to fight any “outside external forces” that question or criticize New Trier’s laser focus on DEI (1:39:00). 

Also at the board meeting, Ms. Savage-Williams lauded New Trier’s recently-formed affinity groups, stating they are needed to protect students from “dominant white culture” and to provide a “safe space,” i.e., a space without white teachers or students, to discuss racism and process “microagressions” students may have experienced “without needing to explain racism … and their experiences to white teachers and white peers…” (1:05:00). (Racially segregating students, however, appears to violate federal law and other U.S. school districts have settled litigation by agreeing to “end ‘affinity groups’ that exclude students on the basis of race.”)

During the two-hour board meeting, no one questioned or criticized New Trier’s DEI approach.

Relatedly, Ms. Savage Williams recently spoke at the White Privilege Conference in Mesa AZ (see graphic above) sponsored by The Privilege Institute. Page through the program here, including definitions of terms such as “internalized racism” and “racial literacy” (pp. 10-13) as well as sessions, including “The Invention of White People,” "Decolonizing the History of the Gender Binary," "Guilt, Gender & the New White Rage," “Sanctuaries of Privilege: How Congregations Harbor Racism,” “Black, White, and the Jew Between,” and "What's Up with White Women? Unpacking Sexism and White Privilege."

New Trier’s doubling down on DEI/equity is misguided. As noted in a recent New York Times opinion piece by Jesse Singal, “there’s little evidence many [DEI] initiatives work” and the “type of diversity training that is currently in vogue – mandatory training that blames dominant groups” – “may well have a net negative effect.” In a 2018 Anthropology Now article, sociologists Frank Dobbin and Alexandra Kalev noted that “diversity training,” now a $9 billion a year industry, “is likely the most expensive, and least effective, diversity program around.” 

Emerging data also suggests that DEI programming, which is premised on critical race theory, is depressing American teens, particularly teen girls. Data from the CDC’s 2021 “Youth Risk Behavior Survey shows that between 2011 and 2021: (a) female students reporting “persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness” increased from 36% to 57%; (b) females who “seriously considered attempting suicide” increased from 19% to 30%; and (c) females who “made a suicide plan” increased from 15% to 24%. One recent study of teens found that 58% of white students exposed to “critical race theory” “feel more guilty about their race [and] experienc[e] negative sentiment toward” whites as a group, compared to 39% of students at non-DEI schools. 
Another researcher summarized the connection between DEI and deteriorating teen mental health this way:

"[S]chools compulsively tell . . . children how awful it is to be white, how white people enjoy unearned “privilege,” how they benefit from “systems” put in place by and for white people for the sole purpose of oppressing “people of color” . . .

The students, especially the girls, absorb this messaging... [A]bove all they don’t want to be thought of as vicious oppressors… Lacking maturity and self-confidence, they fail to put “anti-racist” indoctrination in its proper context. They do not appreciate its ahistorical, anti-intellectual, and anti-humanist foundations, nor are they aware of the incentives leading teachers and administrators to foist it on them...” (Emphasis added.)

Meanwhile, New Trier’s test scores have fallen 17 points (reading) and 11 points (math) since 2017, while spending per pupil has increased 37% since 2010.  

The equity agenda at New Trier is about pushing progressive socio-political theories on students at the expense of teen mental health and high-quality rigorous academics. DEI is political, not educational - see the White Privilege Conference’s sessions – and its implementation is distracting from New Trier’s primary mission of “commit[ting] minds to inquiry.” 

Based on its latest board meeting, New Trier is clearly doubling down on DEI. Its misguided and unsupported approach will continue to change the nature and quality of public education in the North Shore. 
New Trier test scores fall by more than 11 percentage points from 2017 to 2022
Get your tickets for
New Trier Neighbors' event with
UChicago’s Dr. Dorian Abbot

"Cancel Culture, Free Speech
and the Fight for Meritocracy on College Campus"

April 20th ~ 6:30 - 8:30 pm ~ The Bottle Shop/Wilmette
Join us for our next live New Trier Neighbors event from 6:30 - 8:30 pm on April 20th at the Bottle Shop in Wilmette for a program with Dr. Dorian Abbot, University of Chicago associate professor and fearless defender of freedom of speech and meritocracy on college campuses. 

Tickets available here. Space is limited! 

Dr. Abbot ignited a firestorm in late 2021 when MIT canceled a public lecture he was scheduled to give on climate and the potential for life on other planets. You'll hear about that experience and others, as well as progress he's made to preserve free inquiry and the rewarding of academic excellence as crucial to the mission of the university.

Read his Newsweek op ed about merit versus DEI on campus here.

Drinks and light snacks included in ticket purchase. Space is limited! Get your tickets today!
Like our newsletter? Share it with a friend!

Did a friend forward this to you? Sign up yourself at