Teens Take Charge, a New York City far-left activist group that used children to hurl accusations of racism against parents who wanted to keep schools open and nearly succeeded in ending the city’s tradition of rigorous merit-based magnet schools, apologized Tuesday for harming children, and said the group itself was racist.
A lead player in the education culture wars of the last few years in the nation’s largest school district, the group advertised itself as an organic group of largely minority children and lobbed rhetorical bombs, while leftists claimed that any rebuttals amounted to attacking children. In reality, the group was part of a nonprofit called The Bell which was run by a white man named Taylor McGraw. In its apology, TTC said it has separated from The Bell and McGraw after “some of our community members were harmed by the white norms he perpetuated.”
It got a new “Interim Adult Executive Director” named Thivaya Saraswati, “a queer, Tamil woman,” who wrote in the letter that she “learned TTC wasn’t the radical utopia I thought it was,” and that “part of our growth as an organization is to acknowledge the harm that’s taken place at TTC.”
“There was a culture at TTC that was harmful to staff and youth, especially to Black & Brown youth. This included: a deep rooted hustle, time-scarce culture that led to severe burnout; a lack of centering the most marginalized youth, which contributed to standards rooted in white supremacy and left several Black & Brown organizers feeling disposable; the deradicalization of grassroots organizing models and values during the transition to a nonprofit structure; explicitly racist remarks by a handful of youth organizers with no systems to address these harmful incidents; and white leadership perpetuating racial inequity with our organization,” the letter said.
“The harm compounded over time, resulting in tension and a sense of disillusionment so strong, some organizers wanted us to shut it down altogether,” it added. “To the youth and adults who joined this organization eager to fight for change and justice but experienced harm in the process, we’re deeply sorry. To the Black & Brown youth hurt by the culture at TTC, we’re deeply sorry. To the Black Femme members of last year’s Steering Committee, we’re deeply sorry. To the TTC founders, from whose radical vision TTC strayed, we’re deeply sorry.”
McGraw did not return a request for comment from The Daily Wire on the accusations.
Maud Maron, a former New York school board member and Democrat city council candidate who was attacked by TTC for disagreeing with its stance that tests are racist because too many Asians excelled, told The Daily Wire the group has much to atone for.
“They should apologize — to people whose lives they derailed and who suffered real consequences because of their viciousness,” she said. “They’re apologizing to the wrong people about the wrong things. It was a little Maoist terror cell that went after parents like me who were simply advocating for better education for kids.”
Maron said it was bad enough that the group used children as “human shields” for attacks on people trying to save the school system from being dumbed down. The recent “apology” doesn’t fix anything, she said.
“Apologizing for the fact that Taylor McGraw is a white dude is an idiotic thing to apologize for,” Maron said. “He ran the organization exactly according to its own logic–a bunch of kids who are supposed to attack adults who aren’t sufficiently leftist… now watching them attack the guy who coordinated their vicious attacks is pretty interesting,” she added.
Asian parents were particularly shocked by TTC not only because their children stood to be harmed from an attack on educational rigor, but because those who fled Communist China saw reflections of the Red Guard in the way adult activists cultivated and used children as ideological soldiers. Parents who advocated for mainstream ideas–like the idea that it is proper to use a math test to decide who gets in to schools like Stuyvesant, one of the most rigorous math schools in the country–found themselves at the center of outlandish struggle sessions.
The group conducted activism that curiously mirrored teachers unions‘ agenda, and experts said its political activities may have violated nonprofit tax law. An email obtained by the New York Post suggested that then-schools Chancellor Richard Carranza was working with groups like TTC to flood public comment sessions to drown out the voices of parents like those affiliated with PLACE (Parent Leaders for Accelerated Curriculum and Education), a group co-founded by Maron and popular with Asian parents and others who believed “equity” initiatives were designed to displace them and lower standards at the few remaining high-performing city schools.
TTC often had children speak at contentious education meetings, relying on their youth to give their messages emotional appeal and make it harder to challenge them. But ultimately, parents in New York City did not believe in lowering standards in schools to achieve certain racial ratios, a factor in the election of Mayor Eric Adams, who has walked back policies pushed by Carranza and previous mayor Bill DeBlasio.