“As Concord Academy nears its 100th birthday, now proudly inclusive of all genders, the school also marks half a century as a coed institution.”Concord Academy’s “50 Years of Coeducation” message
Concord Academy, an elite day and boarding K-12 prep school in historic Concord, Mass., is celebrating its centennial this year. The school was founded in 1922 as an all-girls school and has been co-ed since 1971. Concord Academy is situated on a 39-acre campus on Main Street in historic Concord, Mass. Tuition for 2022-23 will be $55,130 for day students and $68,840 for boarding students. Parents say Concord Academy has always been progressive, but recent changes raise concerns about Concord Academy’s priorities: are administrators allowing activism to crowd out academics?
According to the Concord Academy website, the “Concord Academy at 100” centennial effort “considering…who we would like to be for the next 100 years” included input from a new student group called Student Action for Social Justice. The group was formed during the fall of 2018 to “draw attention to inequities.”
Recent changes at Concord Academy include:
A new head of school, “grading for equity” policies, “witnessing whiteness” and a host of new critical race theory and gender ideology-infused classes, and an increased focus on “equity” in admissions, hiring, and school activities. Concord Academy now permits biological males to participate on its girls sports teams. On its website, Concord Academy boasts about its “first-ever” racially segregated alumni reunion scheduled for March 31, 2023.
The National Association of Independent Schools Student Diversity Leadership Conference
Concord Academy is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), a school membership association that has been widely criticized for pushing ideological content and policies on its member schools.
The National Association of Independent Schools holds an annual “People of Color/Student Diversity Leadership Conference,” controversial for promoting race essentialism, critical race theory, and radical gender ideology in its keynote speeches and workshop classes. Videos from workshops at the conference have been posted by a former teacher and whistleblower of an NAIS member school here.
Students at Concord Academy have attended some of the National Association of Independent Schools People of Color/Student Diversity Leadership Conference dating back to at least 2009.
Concord Academy’s new head of school search
On July 1, 2022, Henry Fairfax became Concord Academy’s 11th head of school. He is also affiliated with the National Association of Independent Schools People of Color Conference, as a former co-chair of the event.
Concord Academy’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts
According to the school’s website, Concord Academy stepped up its “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI) efforts after several Concord Academy students formed the Student Action for Social Justice group in the fall of 2018.
At the time, the school affirmed its past efforts while vowing to do more:
“CA has long been committed to promoting diversity and supporting inclusion. Nevertheless, these students demonstrated that more than the structures already in place — Community and Equity programming, affinity groups, Inclusion Council, Health and Wellness seminars, and school-wide assemblies and workshops — is needed. The pursuit of equity, they showed, is inextricable from CA’s core values of love of learning and common trust.”
Concord Academy’s athletics participation “gender-inclusion” statement
Concord Academy now allows biological boys to participate on its girls sports teams. According to the “gender-inclusion” statement on page 83 of the school’s course catalog:
“We recognize that many athletics opportunities and teams are organized on a gender
binary, and this structure does not adequately represent or support the diversity of gender identities in our school. Each student may participate in programming that aligns with or supports their gender identity. They may also participate in programming that aligns with their gender assigned at birth. The Athletics Department is continually working to create a more gender-inclusive environment for all students.”
Concord Academy’s diverse activities and academics
Diversity in activities and academics became high priority for Concord Academy after the “Student Action for Social Justice” group “shared their struggles with faculty and administrators” in the fall of 2018.
Concord Academy now boasts more than 90 clubs and organizations, including Q^2 (queer and questioning), UFT (people with “underrepresented family trees”), and the PeCo (period coalition) committed to “menstrual activism.” The school’s “community and equity” team provides support to the school’s social justice clubs which, according to the school’s website, “educate the larger [Concord Academy] community about political causes.”
During the 2018-19 academic year, Concord Academy added a “witnessing whiteness” curriculum for teachers to discuss “equitable classroom practices.” Teachers read “Grading for Equity: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How It Can Transform Schools and Classrooms,” a book about dismantling academic standards, by Joe Feldman.
Concord Academy offers no academic prizes or honors. According to the school’s website, “Grades are given only at the end of each semester” (not on each assignment or exam as is standard) on an A+ to D- scale and there are no “F’s” (“a failing grade (E) receives no credit”). Concord Academy’s dean of academic program and equity sits on the school’s “community and equity” team.
Concord Academy’s “Wide-as-you-can-dream” curriculum
Concord Academy now refers to its course offering as a “wide-as-you-can-dream” curriculum. The high school’s course catalog is rife with dozens of classes steeped in critical race theory and gender ideology in such subjects as history, English, French, Spanish, and even mathematics.
Here is a sampling of course descriptions from the school’s 2021-22 course catalog:
U.S.: Protest Movements of the 1960s (History): We consider politics, war, protests, riots, assassinations, sex, drugs, music, hippies, feminists, LGBTQ people, radicals, and conservatives by immersing ourselves in words, ideas, sounds, and images from the 1960s.”
An Early History of Haiti: From Colony to Republic (History): We explore the successive stages of Haitian history, from pre-European contact with the indigenous Taino population, to the landing of Columbus and subsequent years of French colonialism and exploitation, to the Haitian revolution.
History of Brazil: From Colonization to the Abolition of Slavery (History): We critically examine the dynamic colonial history of Brazil through historical texts, films, biographies, popular music, literature, and visual arts, on topics such as colonialism, slavery, immigration, revolution, inequality, race, and racism.
U.S.: Bad Medicine: Gender, Race, and Health in the Americas (History): This course explores the intersections of gender, race, medicine, and health in the history of the Americas. Through shared readings, discussions, historical writing, films, and literature, we examine how health politics and modern medicine have been shaped by imperialism, racism, misogyny, and xenophobia.
The United States and Latin America (History): Some of the topics we study include the ways that race and racism have informed U.S. foreign policy in Latin America, immigration and nativism, economic imperialism, the emergence of authoritarian regimes and revolutionary mobilizations.
Latin America During the Cold War (History): Narratives and Film (History): How have race, gender, imperialism, communism, neocolonialism, repression, intervention, and revolution shaped the history of the region?
U.S.: Censorship in American Theater from 1900 to the Present (History): Topics include the judiciary, political activism, blacklisting, sexual and gender politics, race, and religion.
U.S.: From McDonald’s to Monsanto: The Politics of American Food (History): This course asks students to examine food in American supermarkets and restaurants, how that food was grown or created, and how it got to their table. Attention is paid to issues of race, gender, class, and region. Through journaling, students explore their relationship to food, examining their own political views on what they eat, how the people who grew or manufactured it should be treated, and the environmental impact of the food industry.
U.S.: The Presidency (History): After the vast majority of pollsters wrongly predicted the last presidential election result, when an impeached president for the first time ever is running for reelection, and when the intelligence community says that foreign governments continue to meddle in the campaigns, it’s hard to imagine a more significant election than 2020. This course examines the theoretical and historical foundations of the office, while providing a forum for students to explore how the candidates address hotly debated issues. We also deconstruct the role of race, gender, and class in the media’s coverage of the candidates, including satirical forms such as SNL skits.
African History from Sundiata to the Scramble (History): While pop culture and the media often depict Africa as either impoverished or empty, it had once been known as a place of extraordinary wealth. We begin by examining these stubborn misconceptions before considering how Africans told their own history, beginning with Sundiata: Epic of Old Mali from the 13th century.
Being Human: Topics in Anthropology and Sociology (History): We develop a vocabulary of core concepts and analytical skills for the study of cultures and societies both local and global. Through readings, films, lectures, class discussions, and experiential projects, students explore the nature of these systems, apply course concepts to their own lives in a critical way, and reflect upon how issues such as belief systems, social stratification, culture change, and gender roles play out in an interconnected and globalized world.
How We Tell the Past (History): One concern is the evolution of historical studies in an elite scholarly tradition, and the resulting study of times and places that have been far removed from the Western past and have deeply influenced marginalization of certain voices and experiences. Thus, we are engaged in the construction and deconstruction of historical thinking in the West, and consider questions of what has been written at the national, global, and micro levels and of who has written it and why. We also consider five of the more recent important influences on historians, including environmental history, women’s and gender history, and new developments in the history of colonialism, as well as the emerging fields of visual culture and digital studies.
U.S.: Immigration and Nativism in the American Past and Present (History): Donald Trump’s presidency brought a great deal of attention to immigration and immigrants in American Society. On one hand, there are policymakers enacting laws that perpetuate stereotypes, stoke fears about outsiders, and echo a nativist rhetoric that many people believed had disappeared from public discourse. On the other, there were voices within the United States and abroad that have sought to remind us that we are all ourselves immigrants or their descendants.
Mathematics of Social Justice (Mathematics): This course, combining sociology with math, explores social justice themes using various mathematical techniques. The readings include numerous articles and parts of books focusing on examining and quantifying inequality. Among the topics included are income inequality, affirmative action, and social mobility.
French 3 (Modern and Classical Languages): In addition to discussing their daily lives, students approach questions such as immigration and social justice through readings that may include poetry, short stories, songs, and news items.
Advanced French: Voices of Africa and Its Diaspora (Modern and Classical Languages): This social justice course is an introduction to contemporary Africa, a lost paradise, full of opportunities as well as challenges, through the lens of sub-Saharan francophone writers, film producers, and musicians.
Advanced Spanish: Politics and Poetry of the Caribbean (Modern and Classical Languages): With the framework of the Julia Alvarez novel En el nombre de Salomé, students explore how poetry, politics, gender, and race issues come together to shape the history of the Dominican Republic from independence through the Trujillo era. How these issues impacted neighboring Caribbean nations is also explored.
African American Literature (English): Exile, alienation, racial politics, passing, and self-representation are among the themes explored through the “double consciousness” lens of African American writers.
Visions and Revisions: Influence, Appropriation, Remix (English): We look at the way retellings update and subvert the “originals” that inspire them. When is appropriation an act of violence and when is it a form of resistance? A transmedia approach makes us attuned to the politics of representation, to the way cultural products deal with such key aspects of identity as sexuality, gender, race, ethnicity, and class, as they re-represent and (re)define what it means to be human and to have agency.
Better to Speak: Voices Redefining Gender and Sexuality in Literature (English): With a focus on LGBTQ writers, this course explores personal, linguistic, and political issues that have shaped gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer identity and experience.
Refraction, Reflection, Reflexivity: Self-Reconciliation through Black Mirrors (English): Regarding visual and verbal surfaces as mirrors that confirm and distort truths of the self, the course explores the formation and crisis of subjectivity and contends with millennia-old questions of gender and genre, body and shadow, limits and escape. With select poetry, novels, visual media, literary theory and criticism, the course probes how reflection correlates with reflexivity and why human consciousness seeks screens, doubles, social and black mirrors for self-deception and determination.
Disobedience as Form: Feminist Experiments from Emily Dickinson to Evie Shockley (English): How do women wield language to reposition themselves as source and creator against their cultural inheritance as derivatives — “the second sex”? How does a poetic act become a political experience? …the course examines how gender transgressions take the shape of transgressed genre boundaries and how questions of epistemology emerge from questions of ontology for women in the last 150 years of literature
Gender, Nation, Self (English): Do nations have genders? Are nations symbolically female, their protectors male? Could we understand self-liberating writing by women, then, as a form of treason against the idea that nations have genders — or as a form of treason against the very idea of a nation?
In Other Words: Memoir and American Identities (English): Walt Whitman says, “I am large, I contain multitudes.” How do — and should — writers render those pluralities and multitudes? Through readings of memoir, essays, and poetry we examine how writers reckon and experiment with telling their stories. We consider how a writer’s sense for their intersectional racial, gender, sexual, and geographical identities — among others — translates to the page.
The full course catalog is below: