The day after Donald Trump’s presidential election win on Tuesday night, a teacher at a fancypants private high school in New York City penned an essay — datelined NEW YORK — to explain how he is helping the children of obscene wealth cope with “despair, anxiety or indignation” about the news.
The teacher is Jim Cullen. He presides over history classes at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in New York. A single year of high school tuition at the elite bastion costs $47,000. (A year of kindergarten also costs $47,000.)
He begins by explaining that “necessity requires” him to set aside his “own unease and confusion” in an effort to help his well-heeled students understand that the United States has again elected a new president.
“My role is to help them feel better as a matter of trying to alleviate despair, anxiety or indignation,” Cullen writes, “but also to feel better in the sense of thinking more clearly, to bring their hearts and their heads into greater alignment (or, at least, greater consciousness of each other).”
Cullen compares Trump’s election in 2016 to the election of Democrat Andrew Jackson in 1828. He told his students about Thomas Jefferson’s “famous anecdote of the plowman and the professor,” he says. “State a moral case to both, Jefferson, said, and the plowman would be able to know what is right as well as the professor: this was Jefferson’s argument for democracy.”
However, Cullen writes, “there was never any question in Jefferson’s mind that the professor should be the one to actually run the country in the plowman’s interest.”
“Given that I teach in a school full of meritocratic would-be professors, I thought it important to emphasize that the plowmen periodically have their say on Election Day, even when, like Jackson and Donald J. Trump, they were hardly salt of their earth themselves,” Cullen explains.
Cullen later discusses the founder of the fancypants Ethical Culture Fieldston School, euthanasia enthusiast Felix Adler. He notes the political ascendancy of Ronald Reagan. Many New Yorkers were shocked by Reagan’s rise, Cullen recalls. “Reagan was viewed as an ignorant warmonger, and most liberals at the time had a hard time imagining him ever becoming president.”
“Donald J. Trump is notably lacking in government experience,” the history teacher also observes. “And this may be where we come up against the limits of my capacity to provide reassurance.”
The steep 47,000-per-year tuition at Fieldston would current add up to a total K-12 education of cost of $564,000. On the bright side, this considerable expenditure includes lunch and accident insurance. Also, the yearbook.
Notable alumni of Fieldston include New Yorker film critic David Denby; media mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg; celebrity spawn Sean Ono Lennon; and Robert Moses, the guy who tried to destroy Greenwich Village and the best parts of Manhattan with a huge expressway.
The Hechinger Report notes that it proudly covers “inequality” in education.