I went to a high school that had high standards. Students at Horace Mann School, were primed and expected to excel in all areas: There were regular Intel International Science and Engineering Fair winners, students who performed with major symphony orchestras and award-winning writers.
As fellow alum Robert Boynton, who graduated in 1981 and who is now a professor of journalism at New York University, said to me in a telephone interview, those high standards across the board at the school are “the kind of elitism I can really get behind.”
Boynton is now also one of the driving forces behind the Horace Mann Action Coalition, an entirely volunteer organization of alumni, pressing the school to adhere to the rigorously high standards it set for its students. The HMAC was formed after 1982 graduate Amos Kamil’s New York Times Magazine article exposed how students at the school were sexually abused by a number of different teachers from 1962 until the 1990s.
The Horace Mann board and administration refused back then, and still refuses now, to apologize to the victims or to hold school administrators at all accountable. The attitude of the school is that it does not need to change much, since the abuse is in the past and none of the named past abusers are on the current faculty.
Yet students groomed to expect high standards are not satisfied with the excuses of the administration. The HMAC is the only alumni-sponsored and alumni-funded organization of its kind calling for and funding an independent investigation into the abuse that occurred and trying to establish new standards — both at Horace Mann and at other schools where abuse has occurred, like Poly Prep, Deerfield Academy, Buckingham Browne & Nichols, and Yeshiva University High School for Boys.
So why can’t the Jewish world demand similar steps from Jewish institutions where abuse has occurred?
Just like at HM, at Y.U.’s High School for Boys there was a systematic cover-up by the administration and then a sending off of the molesters to Florida and Israel. Guess what? They only continued their criminal actions.