Free to be…

“Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they can not communicate; they can not communicate because they are separated.”

-Dr. Martin Luther King

Dear EVCS family,

I know many in our community are still reeling from the outcomes of the grand juries in Ferguson and right here in New York City over the last several days. The grand jury decisions and the subsequent outpouring of emotion and frustration all over the country have caused so many of us to think, question and discuss with each other the larger implications of these events for our society. What does it all mean, and where do we go from here? I remember when Obama was first elected president hearing the phrase “post-racial” thrown around, as if now that we have a black president we can move beyond the specter of race and our complicated and shameful history with racism. Clearly, post-race is not a thing in America, at least not yet, and not by a long shot. As a father I am feeling a sense of urgency around finding ways to talk to my daughters about these events that is honest, productive and developmentally appropriate. As an educator I feel compelled to ensure that we are creating a culture and curriculum in our school that fosters kindness, acceptance, communication and righteousness. Our school’s mission statement speaks to the importance of kindness, social responsibility, and the readiness to to contribute towards positive social change in the community and world. I see examples of this every single day at EVCS, but these recent events remind me that we need to be vigilant in bringing these ideals to the surface of whatever we do, as often as we can.

It is so timely that one of the goals on our Comprehensive Education Plan is to improve our school culture of diversity and inclusivity, and that we have a diversity committee this year, led by the indefatigable Michelle Eaton and Marcella Durand. The goals of the diversity committee are three-pronged, focusing on outreach and recruitment to diversify our applicant pool, advocacy for sensible admissions policy in the DOE that encourages diverse schools, and ongoing support to our current families with regard to diversity related issues. The meetings have been very well-attended by EVCS parents and faculty and the discussions have been lively and resonant. I strongly encourage anyone who is interested and able to join us at our next meeting (12/18 at 6:00) where we will have a guest speaker, Sally Lee. Sally runs an organization called Teachers Unite and specializes in issues related to race and diversity in schools. Should be highly relevant and interesting.

These are clearly complicated and nuanced issues. There is no magic bullet and real change takes time. But I feel immensely proud to work in a school where I am surrounded by parents, educators and children who care and are committed to contributing towards positive social change. I’d like to leave everyone with the lyrics from one of our favorite School-wide Morning Meeting songs:

“I see a land bright and clear, and the time’s comin’ near
When we’ll live in this land, you and me, hand in hand
Take my hand, come along, lend your voice to my song
Come along, take my hand, sing a song…
And you and me are free to be you and me.”

Hug your kids tight and have a great weekend.