As a founding member of the diversity committee at my school some twenty years ago, I attended many meetings over a period of years with earnest, determined parents. We were committed to nurturing our progressive school and its democratic community toward reflecting more of the rich and varied cultures of our city. We just didn’t know how to do it. The fiduciary stability of an independent school depends a great deal on a tuition based budget, and so socio-economic diversity was the first and biggest challenge to meet.
We had many meetings where we attempted to answer the vexing question of what did the word diversity actually mean? Did it mean different skin color only? Was it purely a socio-economic issue? Could it mean different religions, different kinds of families, different ways of behaving and learning as well… or different ways of responding to and feeling about the dominant culture… and just what is the dominant culture and where does its power flow from?
We weren’t sure about any of our answers, though vibrant discussions continued… and we strove to get our school more well known throughout the city. We also joined an organization that specialized in supporting the enrollment of families of color into independent schools.
And then there was the question of social justice. Civil rights. We dug deeply into the question of families, and how this cultural institution was changing from inside out-and could our community open its arms to variations? Yes we could.
We were fortunate to have each other to talk with about issues that were at times deeply troubling.
I read this piece this morning and was inspired at the courage one woman displayed around the same time we were struggling to get our committee going. She was a committee of one. Read her story here: