Don’t mess with these mothers.
A casual group of moms who got together in secret last summer to discuss what they felt was increasing and alarming “wokeness” in NYC private schools has morphed over the past six months into a stealth guerrilla powerhouse.
The organization has a core of about 25 mother activists who preside over a network of more than a hundred undercover mothers from LA to Texas to Miami. They say they were inspired first by two Ohio mothers, Amy Gonzalez and Andrea Gross, whose kids were expelled from private school in July 2021 after the moms pushed back against critical race theory.
Undercover Mother members also credit former Grace Church teacher Paul Rossi, booted from the classroom after he voiced doubts about the school’s new progressive curriculum last year as well as Andrew Gutmann, a former Brearley School father who wrote a scathing open letter to the school in 2021, with giving them motivation and courage.
Undercover Mother’s chief weapons are a salty Twitter feed and a hard-hitting and prolific Substack that’s come out with 30 dispatches so far about so-called “anti-racism” and gender and sex education in schools since August 2021.
Sample post titles include: “You Are Being Gaslighted,” “Social Justice Chess,” “Is Math Racist?” “The Cult of Wokeness is Frying Our Children’s Brains” and “It’s All about the $Money$.”
Some Substack posts are brief and include material sent to them anonymously from parents, teachers and school trustees — like a lengthy policy recently enacted at Mt. Sinai school advocating for “gender neutral bathroom facilities.”
“An example of your school’s priorities,” Undercover Mother snapped on Aug. 17. “They are focused on bathroom ‘gendering’ instead of real education.”
The members of Undercover Mother who spoke to The Post identified themselves and their locations but asked that they remain anonymous for fear both they and their children could face retribution. They said they’ve already had to “shed” a few faux-mothers who were trying to infiltrate the group.
“We don’t know who they really were or why they were there but it was clear they were up to no good,” one mother said.
The ultra-secrecy helps the cause, one said.
“No one can stop us because they don’t know who we are,” she said.
The mothers of the group communicate almost solely over the encrypted phone app Signal and do not disclose their real last names — even to each other. They’re fighting what they say is a dangerous “wokeness” flooding private schools all over the US and they’ve targeted the powerful NAIS, the National Association of Independent Schools, which they say is driving the ideology.
The Undercover Mother members say they are not affiliated with any outside political organizations or public relations companies.
“We have done a tremendous amount of research and investigative work over the past six months,” a Manhattan-based Undercover Mother told The Post. “This is not just about critical race theory. We aren’t going through book stacks at the school libraries. We believe there are a hierarchy of problems and if you solve the ones at the top, the bottom ones will resolve themselves.”
Their Substack has only 2,500 subscribers at present and their Twitter feed has just over 1,500 followers but four Undercover Mother members told The Post that the number of people who read them anonymously is far greater.
“Many parents are too scared to follow us (on Twitter) because it’s public and they could get in trouble,” one mother from New York said. “Some have asked that we not follow them. It’s the same with the Substack. Many people get it emailed to them from others because they don’t want to be publicly affiliated with us. But we get so many emails from parents telling us what we do is so valuable and that they’re so grateful.”
Another mother, who is Asian-American and lives in California, told The Post the mothers resent being labeled as racist or right-wing or that they are against the teaching of the history of slavery. Among the mothers are several black women.
“Some of us have been the targets of racism ourselves,” she said. “Many of us have experienced discrimination racially in our past. This is not about race and this has nothing to do with the teaching or not teaching about race. We are not redneck racists. We are all humans.”
An Undercover Mother from the West said she noticed a “slow creep” toward a new ideology in her kids’ once “warm, loving” private school beginning in 2016.
“It seemed as if they were injecting this dogma into everything,” she said. “One day my fifth grader came home and said, ‘Mom did you know I’m part of the dominant, oppressive majority? Another of my kids came home and said I am the only kid who doesn’t have an identity. My head almost popped off. She’s 12 years old and she was referring to her gender and sexual identity. It was very confusing. She cried. She felt left out because she didn’t have an identity to brag about.”
The mother and her husband pulled their three kids out of the school recently and now send them to a parochial school, which she said is “woke-free” for the moment.
A typical email sent to Undercover Mother from a private school trustee in December 2021 and viewed by The Post said:
“You’ve seen what happens these days. You can’t disagree or publicly express common sense anymore with risking your livelihood or even your life. My firm would terminate me and I’d probably lose a friend or two if I said out loud what many of us already talk about privately. My children, my wife, even my mother-in-law, would very likely be shamed and run out of town.
“But the continuous manipulating of facts and gaslighting of our parents must stop…,” the trustee added. “As trustees, we have let the woke mob and the woke agenda determine our direction. We have lost our way. Don’t take my word for it! Just look at the decisions and policies and new hires over the last year. And just wait until you see how admissions unfolds in a few months. Instead of leading our community, we now follow a mob-like culture instead.”
Undercover Mother focuses a lot of its wrath on NAIS, a non-profit association of more than 1,900 private schools that was founded in 1962 but has fairly recently begun focusing heavily on so-called “social justice” imperatives and emphasizing all things DEI — diversity, equity and inclusion.
NAIS does not officially dole out all-important accreditations to private schools but it has a strong sway over the regional accrediting bodies, according to many parents who spoke to The Post.
“NAIS was founded…. around the time modern western Marxist and extremist philosophers and activists were getting started,” Undercover Mother wrote in a September post titled, “NAIS – An Origin Story.” “NAIS is not an organization that simply is an accrediting body or resource. It has an agenda that it wants to influence and implement nationally. For example, NAIS encourages racially segregating kindergarteners!”
Undercover Mother works hard at “connecting the dots,” the mother in the western state told The Post. They are concerned about NAIS’ affiliation with two progressive, left-wing non-profit organizations called Independent Sector and Upswell.
On its website, NAIS says it adheres to something it calls “principles of good practice,” which it defines as a “code of ethics” recommended by Independent Sector.
“It feels like NAIS was infiltrated,” said the mother from the western state. “‘The principles of good practice’ are informed by Independent Sector. It is a left-leaning progressive non-profit and they are funded by Upswell. Upswell is a new-ish non-profit that stands for racial justice. NAIS is a non-profit as well — as are private schools. Nonprofits are not supposed to be politically affiliated in order to keep their non-profit status. How are they getting away with this?”
NAIS spokeswoman Myra McGovern in Washington DC told The Post Tuesday that she did not want to comment specifically about Undercover Mother but denied there was any negative aspect to NAIS’ reliance on Independent Sector recommendations. She also said that race and gender work was being offered at schools dating back to the 1980s and it is not all brand-new in private schools.
“There are a lot of opinions about what’s best to teach kids,” McGovern said. “Our member schools are very different from one another. I think it’s important to have a discussion. Undercover Mothers have a particular view but there are those who have the opposite view.”
For now, however, Undercover Mother appears to be the group gathering steam. It’s been so successful that members are thinking of spinning off an Undercover Dad and Undercover Trustee group, one mother said.
“You have to be aware of what’s happening,” the Asian Undercover Mother said. “If you want to capture a country from within you have to capture the elite. And many of the kids in the schools where all this brainwashing is going on are going to be the leaders of the future. People have to wake up before it’s too late.”