EVCS SLT Diversity Updates

Dear EVCS Families,

Hold on to your hats – June is a whirlwind. Sometimes people refer to the school year “winding down” but the truth is it feels like we wind up all spring, especially in June, and hurtle towards the last day with a head of steam. Suffice it to say, it’s a busy time! But it’s very important that we take the time at the end of the year to reflect on our work and experiences.

One of the most resonant themes explored this year, not only within our own school community but throughout District 1 and the city as a whole, has been diversity. EVCS is a truly diverse community in many senses, but our demographics are quite dissimilar to the District averages. Unfortunately there is a trend in our district, which uses a system of “pure choice” in the admissions protocol, of clustering according to race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status. For some powerful infographics that help illustrate this clustering take a look here.

EVCS has always had inclusivity at the heart of its mission statement. It’s very important that our school community continues to be a welcoming place for all students and all families, and that we be an integral part of the amazing neighborhood that we serve. Our school has taken on a few initiatives this year to support the diverse community of students already enrolled at EVCS. We hired an organization called Border Crossers that facilitated a powerful four-part training for our teachers on race and racism sensitivity. We hired another organization called the DreamYard Project to run a program called the Empower Hour with our 3rd and 4th grade students, to help them develop a positive and powerful sense of self identity and narrative, specifically around race and ethnicity. I attended an event called the “Progressive Schools Job Fair for Teachers of Color” and met some very interesting and cool people there. It’s important that our teaching staff also reflect our school and wider community as well. And now our SLT is very interested in knowing, in the words of Ed Koch, “How’m I doin?”. I’d like to ask that you Please take this survey.. I know how busy and crazed everyone feels this month, but I promise, it’s short and sweet and will give us invaluable information that we can use to assess our work and chart a course forward.

Beyond supporting all of the students currently enrolled at EVCS, which will always be my number one priority, it is also quite clear that we need to push the needle on our admissions. Separate from the CEC’s proposal to being controlled choice to D1, you may have heard that the Chancellor rolled out a small admissions pilot program with 7 schools across the city this year. Two of our sister schools in D1, Earth and Neighborhood, participated in this pilot – and in each of their schools they gave priority for 40% of their kindergarten seats (after sibling preference was honored) to families that either qualified for free or reduced price lunch or spoke a language other than English at home. The Chancellor has put out a call for other schools to join this pilot next year and I feel strongly that our school should do it. 40% free and reduced price lunch is far short of the District 1 average (which is closer to 80%), but it would create a safety net, ensuring that our school could not become an entirely white middle class enclave within the vibrant and diverse community that we are intended to serve. I imagine that some folks would like to get together to ask questions and process this together. Let’s plan on next Tuesday morning, right after drop off, in the Tree of Knowing Garden. I’ll bring the coffee.

Thank you for taking the time to read this message, to take the survey, and for all that you do to make our school a magical place. It’s an honor and a privilege to work with you as partners in our children’s education.

As ever,