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The Curse of Tippecanoe
The Curse of Tippecanoe
February 15, 2024

Critique of New York Post article

Critique of New York Post article

Dear New York Post,

We’re not mad. We’re just disappointed. 

When we first saw this article linked in Mrs. Kolb’s post on ParentSquare, we thought it was an April Fool’s joke. Then, we looked at the date. It was not, in fact, the first of April. However, its contents seemed to describe events of a parallel universe: the glaring headline of “Elite NYC private schools are owned by ‘Chinese Communist Party boss’” was supposedly directed, in part, to… us? Like many of you comrades, we were both extremely puzzled. As we skimmed the article, we noticed that it contained a multitude of misleading, yes, but factually incorrect statements regarding Spring Education Group and BASIS Independent Schools in general.

The article’s very title, “Elite NYC private schools are owned by ‘Chinese Communist Party boss,’” is misleading in multifarious ways. Hierarchically, Primavera Capital Group—located in Hong Kong—owns Spring Education Group, which in turn is in charge of BASIS Independent Schools; however, Primavera does not have any say over the operations of BASIS Independent Schools. The two are connected simply through a financial parent-child company relationship. This article completely misconstrues the link between Primavera and BASIS Independent Schools by contending that Primavera, being a company located in China, is negatively influencing curricula after the acquisition. Not only that, but Fred Hu (the CEO of Primavera, or the “Chinese Communist Party boss” in question), is not actually a party boss (although he may consider himself to be). In fact, the headline is the only place in the entire article where they claim he has a leadership role in the party.

A good portion of the article is focused on irrelevant details, such as Michael and Olga Block, the founders of BASIS Education Group, purchasing extravagant homes. The placement of this section in particular, containing phrases such as “property-buying spree” and “‘spacious modern masterpiece,’” erroneously suggests that the Blocks, disregarding the well-being of their students, sold BASIS Independent Schools to a “communist CEO” (he contradicts himself / he contains multitudes!) simply to add another few homes to their burgeoning collection. While we may not know the Blocks personally, we can confirm to a degree of certainty that that was most likely not their motive.

The rest of the article is just fearmongering, implying ties where there are most likely none and emphasizing the word “communist” when most of the article is really just about certain arbitrary tenets of capitalism like “consumer purchasing” and “international trade.” On both the article’s cover image and at a seemingly random place in the article itself, there is an image of Xi Jinping. Why? We are unsure. The actual effect of those pictures has nothing to do with content. They have only been put in the article in order to create an implicit connection between BASIS Independent and the Chinese government as the New York Post was unable to find an explicit one.

An image of similar relevance (i.e. none)

Since the New York Post is not legally allowed to accuse Spring Education of distributing a curriculum riddled with influences from communism and the Chinese government, they simply implied that Spring Education is “‘carefully vetted by the federal government,’ the source said, adding that Hu ‘has nothing to do with how the schools are run.’” These scare quotes hint that the New York Post may not agree with what this source asserts, as if these quotes are merely the source’s words, not facts.

 

The article’s main “reasoning” for why the schools’ alleged ties to the CCP are somehow a “risk to students’ and the public’s safety” has some apparent, racially antagonistic roots. While the New York Post’s source stated earlier in the article that Primavera has no control over the schools’ curricula, this section of the article seemingly contradicts that. Conveniently right before the image of Xi Jinping, the New York Post mentions that Mandarin happens to be on the curriculum of BASIS Independent’s New York campuses and that it has been there even before the schools were purchased by Spring Education. If Mandarin has been in the curriculum before the supposedly “Communist-backed purchase” that the article so fervently claims, then why even mention Mandarin classes in the article? This is not just a throwaway line—the next three paragraphs are all targeting the presence of Chinese culture at BASIS Independent Schools.

 

“In addition, students participate in Lunar New Year celebrations, learn Chinese calligraphy and painting and analyze Chinese movies, according to a report.” Celebrating a holiday? How scandalous! The unnecessary emphasis on students embracing their Chinese culture and ethnicity is equivalent to something as preposterous as “In addition, students participate in Christmas celebrations, learn English cursive and painting and analyze American movies, according to a report.” This weak argumentation would certainly not slide in English classes here at BISV.

 

Students aren’t being forced to give up their own cultures and transform into loyal members of the CCP as this article suggests—they’re celebrating a holiday from their own culture. Additionally, even if it is not their own culture, there is absolutely nothing wrong with learning a foreign language; it’s not as though everyone who learns French at school is suddenly affiliated with the French government and being coerced into obtaining French citizenship. It also isn’t as though Lunar New Year is the only cultural holiday celebrated at BASIS Independent Schools. Here at BISV, we celebrate whatever holidays our community members celebrate, from Mardi Gras to Diwali to Christmas, and the New York Post is completely disregarding this. 

 

Perhaps the most skeptical aspect of the article—which is saying quite a lot—is the failure of the New York Post to include the edit history. Conventionally, if an article has been edited after publication, the reader should be able to find an edit log located at either the start or end. However, not only has the New York Post failed to include it, the edit was to remove a descriptor that even they found outrageous. 

 

Top: sentence prior to edits; Bottom: after edits

 

The reasons the New York Post edited the article specifically to remove this singular word are unknown as they have refused to release the edit history, so all we can do is make some educated guesses. Perhaps they received backlash regarding their ludicrous word choice, or maybe they finally came to their senses (if even partially). Regardless, this concrete demonstration of a breach of credibility and trust between the reader and the media outlet prompts the question to be asked: how can we trust a supposedly “reliable” and “professional” news source if the source in question, the New York Post, cannot even hold themselves accountable for something as simple as documenting edits after publication? If the New York Post is capable of resorting to such blatant displays of licentiousness, what else have they done that has been swept under the rug? This singular case of exploitation of trust is representative of the dodgy moral grounds the New York Post operates on. We do not believe that the New York Post would be an acceptable source for Mr. Meyerowitz’s classes, as it is clearly unreliable.

 

The New York Post seems to need to attend a few additional classes such as “Journalism 101” and “Conventions of Journalism.” Do not fear! New York has a number of higher-education institutions that we think would be glad to educate them.

 

Maybe an English class at BASIS Independent Schools would help foster higher-quality writing from the New York Post in the future.

 

Sincerely,

Stephanie L. and Aindra T.

 

Works Cited: 

Vincent, Isabel. “Elite NYC Private Schools Are Owned by ‘Chinese Communist Party-Linked Boss.’” New York Post, New York Post, 6 Nov. 2023, nypost.com/2023/10/04/new-york-city-private-schools-owned-by-chinese-communist-party-boss/.

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