National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS)


Modern day indoctrination in private schools

The National Association of Independent Schools, a nonprofit based in Washington D.C. representing over 1,600 private schools, offers a window into how school associations can bring new 21st century indoctrination and activism into schools.

Learning about a school’s associations and affiliations gives parents a sense of a school’s priorities and practices, because private school associations are often as ideologically captured as public-school districts.

According to its 2019 IRS 990 filing, the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) says it “co-creates the future of education by uniting and empowering our community.”

But upon closer inspection, it is clear that the association connects a woke-industrial complex of affiliated associations and accreditors, consultants, search and hiring firms and education companies to its member-“independent” schools through its relationships with woke donors and foundations, board of trustees, “career center” jobs board, resources such as its “Principles of Good Practice (PGPs)” guidance and “Assessment of Inclusivity and Multiculturalism (AIM)” survey tool and multiple conferences throughout the year, including its “flagship” People of Color Conference each December.

Affiliated associations and accreditors

The NAIS uses the International Council Advancing Independent School Accreditation (ICAISA), the association for accreditors which was formerly a department within NAIS called the Commission on Accreditation, to influence curriculum and teaching methods of member schools, under the guise of “quality assurance and accountability.”

Consultants, search and hiring firms and education companies

The NAIS is the glue that connects woke consultants, search and hiring firms and education companies to member schools who purchase their services. These companies often sponsor NAIS conferences and events, where they also provide speakers.

Many schools hire diversity, equity and inclusion consultants, social and emotional learning consultants and headhunting search firms such as industry giant Carney Sandoe who are endorsed by the NAIS.

Education companies such as curriculum and online learning providers are sometimes launched and supported by NAIS. For example, at an NAIS conference in 2017, the association helped to form the Mastery Transcript Consortium based in Winchester, Mass. using a $2,000,000 grant from the Edward E. Ford Foundation. According to promotional materials found on the NAIS website, MTC is working to “reimagine the high school transcript…sans grades.” The association did not respond to a request for comment.

NAIS board of trustees

The association’s board of trustees have close ties with some member schools. For example, as head of school at St. Luke’s School in Connecticut, Mark Davis served on the board of trustees of the National Association of Independent Schools.

NAIS “Career Center” jobs board

Schools advertise job openings on the association’s “career center” job-posting page. As of Jan. 27, 2022, the association’s website contained 2,880 job listings. More than half included “diversity” as a job requirement. Others included some level of indoctrination work.

For example, on Jan. 1 2022, Milton Academy in Milton, Mass., posted an ad for an “Upper School Math Teacher” to help the school “decolonize mathematics education” and commit to “anti-racist pedagogy” and “justice-facing curriculum design.” According to Milton’s student enrollment contract, the school “reserves the right to dismiss any student…whose parents/guardians no longer have a cooperative relationship with Milton Academy, in the judgment of the Head of School.” Milton Academy’s tuition is $49,500 for day students and $59,560 for boarding students. 

NAIS resources

As the hub of the independent school industry, NAIS sets woke industry standards though its “Principles of Good Practice (PGPs)” guidance and “Assessment of Inclusivity and Multiculturalism (AIM)” survey tool. PGPs is a 36-page policy guide covering ethical standards for all areas of running a school including a nine point plan for “equity and justice.”

NAIS recommends schools administer their AIM Online Climate Survey annually to assess the level of “inclusion” at their school. NAIS offers various AIM packages. AIM survey results tend to warrant additional “diversity, equity and inclusion” work and race-based “affinity groups”, which NAIS-recommended consultants are available to provide. NAIS’s “equity and justice” team administers AIM.

NAIS expenses

The NAIS paid Collaborative Agency Group, a speakers bureau based in Boston, fees totaling $314,750 for conference speeches in the year ended June 30, 2020, according to the association’s most recent IRS 990 filing. The speakers’ bureau has a “diversity, equity and inclusion” specialty. The association’s largest expense, other than salaries, was $5.7 million for conventions, meetings and conferences, such as its–according to the association’s website–“flagship” event, the People of Color Conference that takes place each fall. The event is featured in the association’s annual report.

NAIS conferences

The NAIS connects the industry by hosting several national conferences each year: the NAIS Annual Conference, the “advancement professionals” CASE Conference and the People of Color Conference. Other woke industry conferences include the White Privilege Conference and the National Diversity Practitioners Institute.

The NAIS People of Color conference is the organization’s “flagship” conference, held each December. The 2021 conference boasted about 100 workshops, many steeped in indoctrination. The program included a session called, “Small Activists, Big Impact: Cultivating Anti-Racists and Activists in Kindergarten,” tapping into the “anti-racism” movement promoted by ideologues like author Ibram X. Kendi. Another session, “From Pawns to Controlling the Board: Seeing BIPOC Students as Power Players in Student Programming,” focused on the “BIPOC” students, or those who are “Black, Indigenous, People of Color.” Another session, “How Our Grading Undermines Equity and What We Can Do About It,” explored a trend that includes schools eliminating failing grades in the name of “equity.”

In its marketing material, the National Association of Independent Schools encouraged private school “educators at every level, from teachers to trustees” to attend and also targeted students. Private school students from around the country attended special youth sessions in the organization’s Student Diversity Leadership Conference, which included racially-segregated affinity groups and youth workshops. About 7,700 adults and students attended the conference.

After the conference, Paul Rossi, a former math teacher at Grace Church School in Manhattan who raised concerns about the indoctrination taking place at elite private schools, posted clips of some of the conference videos online. One clip shows Steve Davis, founder and chief executive officer of The Institute for Human Relations, an education group in Newark, Del., introducing Randolph Carter, director of East Ed, a consulting group, and former head of diversity and inclusion for the National Association of Independent Schools. 

“He’s a former Black Panther,” Davis said, “and I think you need a little bit of that attitude to do this work.” Carter is the co-founder of the People of Color Conference and the Student Diversity Leadership Conference, a “multiracial, multicultural gathering of upper school student leaders,” organized by the National Association of Independent Schools. 

In another video, the presenter of the “Small Activists, Big Impact” workshop declared, “Kindergarteners are natural social justice warriors.”

The conference included three days of sessions focused on skin color, with participants “getting comfortable with being uncomfortable” and an “ongoing state of practice in order to counteract white supremacy culture.” Some parents wonder: how could seasoned educators and high-profile trustees approve of such indoctrination?