Our Commitment to Being an Anti-Racist Institution
Wednesday, September 9, 2020
Dear La Scuola Community,
As we begin the school year, we reflect on the impact of civil rights leader John Lewis. In his last words, he said, “When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression, and war.” The year 2020 has made more visible than ever the injustices that we need to overcome.
The La Scuola community has felt sadness, grief, and outrage at the recent shooting of Jacob Blake and the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Rayshard Brooks, Elijah McClain, Sean Monterrosa, and those named and unnamed, who are victims of anti-Black police violence rooted in the history of white supremacy in the United States. We see inequality and violence play out not only in police murders but in the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 and the resulting economic disruption on Black and Indigenous people and other people of color. Anti-Black violence must end and accompanying structures and systems of inequality must be dismantled. Black Lives Matter. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
We are a school that believes children have a hundred languages and a hundred worlds to dream. We recognize the special responsibility we have to create a beloved community here and now, to make sure all children learn equitably, to ensure they know intrinsically that injustice to their sister is an injustice to every person, to educate a generation that can and will intellectually fight to institute anti-racism at every turn. We know that we can and must do better, that our commitment must be long-term and evolving, and that we must hold ourselves accountable.
Below we share some initial efforts as La Scuola develops a broad and sustainable approach to making our school anti-racist and reflective of the diversity to which we aspire. We know that La Scuola has work to do so that its student body, faculty and staff, and board represent the diversity of the city where we are anchored. We are committed to changes in curriculum and pedagogy, to professional development, and to community dialogue outlined below to achieve this diversity. Words without actions to back them up are meaningless. We are doing and stand committed to the following:
Curriculum & Pedagogy
Last year, we began to implement a racial literacy curriculum that we use in preschool through grade 8. Connecting to questions and topics in each grade level’s programs of inquiry, we build students’ understanding of race, racism, and anti-racism. Starting in preschool/ kindergarten, students explore color, and learn the science of skin color and melanin, and celebrate the beauty of our differences. In elementary school, students explore activism by studying important figures who are agents of change for racial justice. By middle school, students develop skills to challenge messages about racial misrepresentation in popular media and politics to understand institutionalized racism and how to dismantle it. These lessons develop students’ racial literacy and challenge white, Eurocentric narratives.
Professional Development for Faculty, Staff, & Board
In the fall of 2019, noted diversity, equity, and inclusion consultant Alison Park led training with all faculty and staff. In January of 2020, faculty engaged in professional development about the history of race and racism in the United States and what that means for developing curriculum and pedagogy. We held further discussions on racism and anti-racism with all staff in the spring of 2020. Those opportunities will continue this year. We have identified a point person responsible for DEI in the preschool, elementary, and middle school. White faculty/staff against racism, an accountability group committed to deepening its exploration of how white supremacy and racism shows up in their work, will begin meeting on a regular basis starting this fall. We will continue to work with external and internal consultants to provide professional development to our faculty, staff, and Board of Directors to deepen their understanding of race and racism.
Community Engagement & Dialogue
Before sheltering in place, faculty, staff, and parents came together for a dialogue based on Ibram Kendi’s book, How to Be an Anti-Racist, to explore the ways white supremacy and racism have shaped our lives and the steps we can take to become anti-racist. This year, we will continue these dialogues on a regular basis.
This statement and these actions are our first steps. As we hold ourselves accountable, we will update the community on our progress and invite feedback from students, family, teachers, and staff to ensure La Scuola is a diverse, inclusive, and equitable community.
The La Scuola Leadership Team
Valentina Imbeni, Ph.D., Head of School
The La Scuola Board of Directors
Lama Nachman, Co-Chair, Board & DEI Committee Loring Sagan, Co-Chair David Donahue, Director & Co-Chair, DEI Committee