Diversity /Equity Committee minutes—June 3, 2009
Present: Present: Karen Saunders, Chris O’Brien, Shela Linton, Carole Rayl, Nancy Johnston, Elsa Borrero, Chris Terry, Mary Goodemote, Stuart Strothman, Curtiss Reed, Dave
1% funds—We discussed whether 1% funds could be used to create diversity curriculum. There were some differing understandings of what funds are still available—apparently BAMS funds are tied up, and maybe Putney, but other schools have funding for summer, and all might have funds for the fall.
We suggested we put out a request for proposals (RFP) to schools to encourage schools to submit proposals for diversity curricular planning.
Lynn and Dave will create a proposal to distribute to school administrators.
We reviewed the minutes of May 6, amended two names, and changed some of the language in one place. With those amendments, the minutes were approved. Nancy will make the changes.
Proposal from racial steering committee to have a forum on race June 25th in BUHS multipurpose room. Junie Perreira and Mike Szostak would facilitate. The Racial Steering Committee supports the idea and hopes newspaper reps can be there.
Diversity Day discussion—how can we improve it? We discussed having multiple events at different schools, not all the same day, so speakers could be shared—possibly schools could combine funding and share events. Collaboration might create better results and more creativity. We also hoped students would have the opportunity to integrate with other schools. We also discussed regular celebration of diversity to make it integral as a daily thing, and “no big deal” to have a diversity experience—possibly to make preparations last a month or more, and treat the diversity day or week as a culminating celebration. We do not want it to be the only time all year they look at diversity issues. Next year it will be May 7, for gallery walk/diversity day. Side note: high school is doing Laramie Project (on hate speech and homophobia) as their fall play. We also noted that First Nation study goes nicely with place-based curriculum, which might be another piece of the year’s program at any school. We identified a need for events that would allow for an experience of diversity, such as Proudfoot Greenup Day at the Austine School.
We discussed school action plans, and crafting language that makes study of diversity more regular and integral across the curriculum. We also discussed how teachers need things to fit in to what they’re doing, and that they need support. Further, we discussed teachers who may feel they’re already doing it, when their diversity programs are actually very limited, or “tokenized.” Certainly, if there is a curricular initiative that is ongoing, a school will have a much deeper integration of diversity as a social norm at our schools. The language of diversity initiatives as a “ten year project” could be a way of getting rid of the idea that “we’ll be where we want to be in a year, as far as tolerance and diversity awareness.” We can look at patterns, and how they’re favorable or unfavorable in developing a fertile environment. We can look at teachers who make strong efforts, and try to reduce their occasional sense of isolation.
Again, the need for professional development came up, in this context. We felt our curriculum committee should begin to look at programs that would benefit our schools, so we can make proposals to our administrators. We agreed we needed activity between now and September for there to be programs, funding, and possibly to use planned release days for teacher training.
We discussed the need for assessment of teachers’ needs, to inform planning around multicultural education. A proactive administration can gather this information. One related question on the 1% form is “what specific assistance do you require to better promote bias-reduction, diversity awareness, appreciation, and celebration in your classroom?”
OUR COMMITTEE SUPPORTS GATHERING THIS INFORMATION. We will look to garner the Superintendent’s support in this work. Perhaps we can do it through survey monkey, to help collate info.
We plan to meet again on June 24th at 3:30.
Respectfully submitted by Stuart Strothman