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Building with parents and staff around diversity and equity

  • 1.  Building with parents and staff around diversity and equity

    Posted 07-17-2019 11:43 AM
    Hi everyone!

    I'm a teacher (not teacher-director) at a cooperative preschool that is run jointly by parents and directing staff, where parents outnumber staff on the board of directors. This year, I'm joining the board as staff rep. Our school has around 50 students, and families are majority white, generally well-resourced, and progressive-leaning. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to work with our diversity chair on school-wide equity issues. One of the first things I'd like to do is start dialogue around our school mission and philosophy. In our philosophy we have stated a commitment to anti-bias education, but only the first two goals of anti-bias education are described in the philosophy statement-- and this is generally reflected in our practice as well, where the fourth goal about taking action to address injustice is rarely emphasized. As I dive in and begin having conversations with parents and co-workers, I'd love to engage the group mind around:
    -What does it mean to apply anti-bias education goals -- positive identity formation and belonging, respect for difference, recognizing bias, and acting to create justice -- to our entire school community, not just our work with children in the classroom? 
    -If you've gone through a process of creating some sort of diversity/justice mission statement with your school, can you share tips and struggles about that process?
    -I welcome all stories about building with parents to address diversity and equity issues, inside and outside the classroom curriculum.
    Thank you!


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    Encian Pastel
    Richmond CA
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  • 2.  RE: Building with parents and staff around diversity and equity

    Posted 29 days ago
    Hi Encian,

    Thanks for posing this question.  I've been thinking about it for the last few days and wanted to share some questions I've asked programs when I've been a consultant on anti-bias issues.  I wonder if questions like these might be helpful in your process.
    How do we want our children to respond when faced with stereotypes and biases as they grow up?  I usually give specific examples such as:
    • How would we want children from our program to respond if they were in elementary school and saw another child being teased and bullied about some part of who they were (race, gender, gender identity, immigration status......)? 
    • How would we want children from our program to respond if they were in middle school and found out that a transgender friend or acquaintance had to go all day without using the bathroom because they didn't feel safe using the bathroom options that school policy allowed them to use?  
    • How would we want our children to respond in high school if they saw one group of students being disciplined much more harshly than other groups for the same or similar actions.? 
    • How would we want our children to respond as adults if they found out that they were being paid much higher than someone else who did the same kind of work and had the same kind of experience?  
    • What do our children need from us in to grow up to do the things we are dreaming for them?  
    • What do we need to do to provide that for them?  
    • What do we need to do for ourselves to provide that for them?  
    • What will make this program a safe enough place for staff, parents and board members to take the risks we will need to take in order to figure out how to provide these things for ourselves and our children?
    • I'm guessing you are already asking yourselves similar questions, but maybe these will provide a spark that lets you think of what your next questions might be.  


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    [Meg] [Thomas]
    [Early childhood consultant
    [St Paul ] [MN]
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  • 3.  RE: Building with parents and staff around diversity and equity

    Posted 29 days ago
    Thank you for posting this information.  I am a student learning more about the Core Knowledge Core Competencies.  I am will be reviewing with my staff our mission statement.  I believe that your comments and questions will be a great place to start our conversations.

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    Jennifer Anderson
    Lead teacher
    Creative Kids Preschool
    Gladstone MI
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  • 4.  RE: Building with parents and staff around diversity and equity

    Posted 29 days ago
    Thanks Jennifer.  I've loved the discussions questions like these spark with staff and families.  It's so joyful to share our hopes and dreams for our children and then work backwards to figure out how those shape our actions.  And obviously, there are so many more questions like this that we could ask ourselves.
    I hope you'll jump back in and tell us about how the conversations at your center go.

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    [Meg] [Thomas]
    [Early childhood consultant
    [St Paul ] [MN]
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  • 5.  RE: Building with parents and staff around diversity and equity

    Posted 28 days ago
    Hi Encian!
    I just moved to Richmond from Oakland in May, and work at a private non-profit preschool in Oakland. I am very interested in these questions and it's something I've been thinking a lot about. My (non-co-op) preschool has a similar makeup of majority white, economically secure, and progressive leaning families. One of the things we are actively trying to address is increasing accessibility in terms of economic diversity (mainly through fundraising led by our economically secure families), as well as increasing the presence of non-white families.
    One of the challenges I see is not just admitting lower income families (who often don't even apply because of our sticker price, despite our offering scholarships) and families of color, but providing the support and connection to the community once admitted. We have room parents who are volunteer parents in each classroom who do some outreach to new families in that classroom to help them meet and connect with the other families in the class, but their level of engagement varies and I haven't figured out a good way to find out whether people are actually feeling supported and connected.
    When children notice differences (as we know, this is very common from 3-5), we talk about how everyone is the same in some ways and everyone is different in some ways, and our differences are what make the world an interesting place to live. We also have a curriculum that is heavy on social-emotional development, and encourage children to listen to each other and express how they feel. These qualities will lead (we hope!) to adults who are curious and respectful of different ideas and ways of living.
    I am interested in more formal anti-bias training (this is a standard required course but it feels like it isn't always fresh in the minds of all of our staff). And how do you engage and create awareness with staff who have been raised with problematic or stereotypical ideas of groups? Or parents who have those ideas? It's a fascinating problem that certainly needs addressing.
    Please keep us updated on your journey!

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    Christa Edwards
    Assistant Program Director
    BlueSkies for Children
    Oakland CA
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  • 6.  RE: Building with parents and staff around diversity and equity

    Posted 20 days ago
    Thanks for these responses, Meg and Christa!

    Meg, I think this list of questions will be very helpful.

    Christa, great to hear about another local school with similar struggles! I too relocated to Richmond from Oakland last year. My school is in Berkeley.

    Re: local anti-bias trainings-- last year there were two excellent local training events-- Nadia Jaboneta and Brian Silveira facilitated a free Saturday workshop at Pacific Primary in SF (I didn't find out about it early enough to make it-- and am inquiring about whether there is a mailing list). Also, Marin County board of education early childhood department hosted a day-long training in October and has continued to offer low-cost trainings on various anti-bias topics as part of a long-term leadership series. I can find out what their schedule is for this year-- I know there will be a gender workshop on Saturday, February 8th as I'll be facilitating:)

    I'll pass on the info for both when I get it!

    Best,
    Encian

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    Encian Pastel
    Richmond CA
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