It’s almost unheard of that schools would ever say no to a large financial donation, especially when it aims to help economically disadvantaged children get a better education. However, Dulwich College and Winchester College, two schools in the United Kingdom, recently denied such a donation. Both turned down more than £1 million for poor white boys, out of the concern the donation might fall afoul of Britain’s Equality Act of 2010.
The generous donor was 96-year-old Professor Sir Bryan Thwaites, who attended both schools on scholarships, and taught at Winchester for decades. He learned from his experiences that a good education is the best means to uplift children from disadvantaged backgrounds and provide upward economic mobility. He wanted to help poor white boys especially, because they are disproportionately at the bottom of Britain’s education system.
Poor White Boys Are In Dire Straits
Even the U.K.’s Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) acknowledged in 2014 that being born a white male in Britain doesn’t necessary confer any privilege, because “white pupils from poorer backgrounds, especially boys, suffered the worst start in life as they continued to fall further behind every other ethnic group at school – with their chances of a successful and prosperous career decreasing as a result.”
A recent report by National Education Opportunity Network illustrates that the devastating educational gap white boys in low-income households experience hasn’t gotten any better by 2019. Among all racial groups with similar economic backgrounds, poor white British boys remain the worst performers in schools, and have consistently scored the lowest on the government’s “attainment 8” test, which measures the student’s average grade across eight subjects.
According to the report, “white boys from poorer homes are the least likely of any [racial and ethnic] category, other than Roma or Gypsy, to go to university.” It further notes that “more than 50 percent of universities had fewer than 5 percent of pupils from such backgrounds.” These boys are increasingly left behind in the knowledge economy, and are being trapped in a cycle of poverty, from school to adulthood.
There is an expanding white lower class in Britain. Yesterday’s poor white boys are becoming today’s poor white working class, Britain’s “new underprivileged minority” and the “forgotten men.” They are not only being left behind economically due to poor education outcomes, but also being disdained by Britain’s liberal elites. Ferdinand Mount, author of “Mind The Gap,” expressed that Britain’s white working class have been “subjected to a sustained programme of social contempt and institutional erosion which has persisted through many different governments and several political fashions.”
The Rules Are Different for Blacks and Whites
Thwaites has spent his entire career in higher education, so witnessed the struggle of poor white children firsthand. He regards the educational gap as a “severe national problem.” He wishes to use his fortune to help remove the financial barriers standing between a quality education and those children who need it the most.
Upon the pushback received regarding his donation, he pointed out that in 2018, Cambridge University accepted a scholarship donation from rapper Stormzy intended only for black students at Cambridge. At the time, the vice chancellor of Cambridge University, Stephen Toope, called Stormzy’s donation a “beacon for black students who might otherwise have felt they could not come to Cambridge.”
Compared to the warm reception of Stormzy’s black-only scholarship, Thwaites raised the question, “If Cambridge University can accept a much larger donation sum in support of black students, why can’t I do the same for underprivileged white British?”
According to The Times of London, a spokesman for Winchester College expressed on behalf of the school, “acceptance of a bequest of this nature would neither be in the interests of the school as a charity nor the interests of those it aims to support through its work. Notwithstanding legal exceptions to the relevant legislation, the school does not see how discrimination on grounds of a boy’s colour could ever be compatible with its values.” It’s unclear to many what interests and values the school truly upholds by rejecting a financial donation that could have helped children who needed it the most.
‘Equality Act’ Assists Anti-White Discrimination
The schools’ spokesmen also referred to the Equality Act of 2010, a law to “legally protect people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society,” as the legal basis for their rejection of Thwaites’s donation. However, one of the original authors of the act who is also the former chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Trevor Phillips, heavily criticized both Dulwich College and Winchester College for their interpretation of the law.
He points out that both schools’ lawyers interpreted the law “as though it were constructed purely to favour people of colour. It is not; it is designed to ensure equality.” He continued that, “in circumstances where the racial group that is disadvantaged is white, there should be no bar to doing for them exactly what we would do for so-called black and minority ethnic groups.” However, in today’s increasingly politically correct society, that is not how most liberal elites operate.
Liberals elites have long insisted that they value diversity and equality more than anything else. In reality, however, they view minorities as people who are perpetually oppressed and require top-down assistance to achieve “perceived equality.” “Diversity” and “equality” have become liberal code words for minorities’ assistance, because minority groups have been previously victimized.
The irony, however, is that while advocating for “equality” on the one hand, liberal elites who are comfortable and well-off are reluctant to lend a helping hand, or even to allow others to lend a helping hand, to the poor white boys suffering due to Britain’s educational gap. In their mind, being white means one thing and one thing only: privilege.
This type of narrow-minded thinking fuels ignorance and contempt. These poor boys’ whiteness somehow automatically disqualifies them from any assistance, even if there are proven to be in dire need. Education policies based on a lopsided understanding of diversity and equality are partially responsible for poor white boys’ persistent meager education outcomes.
How ‘Diversity’ Leads to Inequality
Britain’s shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, said in an interview that “a focus in the educational system on women and minority ethnic groups had perhaps inadvertently had a negative impact on the attention paid to white working-class boys.” Rayner understands the white working class better than most of her liberal colleagues, because she came from a working-class background.
She had to quit high school at age 16 when she was pregnant. She went back to school later, finished college, found a job, and was elected to Parliament in 2015. Although she was able to pull her life back together, she witnessed firsthand that many boys from white working-class families feel lost and have a difficult time to adapt. She admits that Britain needs to do more for these boys.
If anything, this recent donation controversy has allowed the public to know that Britain can’t count on Dulwich College and Winchester College to embrace poor white boys for a shot at a much more opportunistic future. Both are among some of the most expensive private schools in England, charging around £40,000 a year.
Ironically, both were founded several hundred years ago with the distinct goal to educate the “poor and the needy,” the kind of students Thwaites wanted to help. By rejecting his generous offer, both schools accomplished exactly what they said they wanted to avoid: discriminating against students based on race and perpetuating a racial divide.
Thwaites is still in good spirits. He is now looking for a first-class school that would be “only too glad to accept” his donation to help poor white children. I hope some wise headmaster will take up on his offer soon. Britain will have a better future when its education system leaves behind its “fake woke” ideals to help minority students even if they are well-off, and starts to recognize the actual needs of students who will live in a systematic cycle of poverty if this issue continues to be unresolved.
This article has been corrected since publication.