Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) at Schoolhouse
In the words of theologian Richard Shaull, from his foreword to Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, “There is no such thing as a neutral educational process. Education either functions as an instrument that is used to facilitate the integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity to it, or it becomes the ‘practice of freedom,’ the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.”
Diversity, equity & inclusion (DEI) is commonly defined as:
Diversity is the presence of differences that may include race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, nationality, socioeconomic status, language, (dis)ability, age, religious commitment, or political perspective.
Equity is promoting justice, impartiality and fairness
Inclusion is an outcome to ensure all members of the community feel welcome.
At Schoolhouse, we believe that socio-emotional learning and diversity equity and inclusion are inextricably linked. These two concepts intersect, creating a foundation where we infuse DEI throughout all aspects of the program, including developing empathy, strengthening communication skills, embracing cultural competency, and practicing perspective taking. Schoolhouse understands that these aspects are integral to a child’s social emotional growth. We nurture students to accept themselves and their peers as they are, embracing differences.
Acknowledge that the school rests on the unceded ancestral lands of the Ramaytush Ohlone people.
Maintain the founding principle to keep tuition as low as possible thereby making a high quality progressive education as accessible as possible.
Enrich our community by welcoming a diversity of races, ethnicities, genders, gender identities, sexual orientations, religions, abilities, and national origins.
Ensure that social emotional learning (SEL) is given equal weight to academic learning.
Infuse DEI throughout all aspects of the program and community life.
Provide real-life, project-based learning, and student leadership opportunities that teach students how to stand up for what is right in order to make the world a better place for all.
Teach students to examine biases, within themselves and in the world around them, so they may actively push against them.
Instill in students the notion that they have the responsibility to use their privileges to help others.
Educate students about historical systems that disadvantage some members of society over others, empowering them to reshape their world.
DEI and Social Justice in Action
We believe that diversity, equity & inclusion and social justice should not only be aspirations of a strong, healthy community, but practices that all members engage in. Below is a sample of some of the ways our students experience DEI.
Inspirational Social Justice Leaders
K+1 students work on large portraits of leaders of the civil rights movement.
Sharing of Cultural Traditions
Our students come from a multitude of backgrounds and traditions. In 2020, students learned about the Lunar New Year from their classmates, as the K+1 students made their own dragon and red lanterns, and the 2+3 performed live music during the K+1 lead dragon dance. Cultural celebrations such as this allow students to share their heritage, strengthen their oral presentation skills, and expose others to new experiences.
At the end of the 2018-2019 school year, the faculty decided that our songbook needed to be updated, as many of the songs were from the 19th century. As you can imagine, they were fraught with racist, sexist, and heterosexist language. The teachers selected songs for removal, but elected to make the update a learning opportunity for our 4-7 students. Accordingly, students reviewed the songbook identifying songs that contain problematic language or messaging. This experience impacted the students significantly as their parents told us how proud their children felt to have made a difference through their actions, getting rid of unjust language and messaging in the songbooks.
Understanding Protests and Riots
With civil unrest and rioting in June, students wanted to exercise their values and make an impact. Humanities teacher Patrick did his part by teaching students about the racial narrative that led to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery's murders. He also explained the reasons behind the protests and riots, wanting students to know why, but allowing them space to make their own decisions. Several students chose to make signs and participate in a Black Lives Matter (BLM) caravan protest.
DEI and Social Justice Literature
Every year, students read books about all kinds of people with diverse backgrounds. K+1 students read Jacob's New Dress and Mary Wears What She Wants and affirmed that children can wear dresses, earrings, or other gendered accessories no matter the gender they claim. 2+3 students read Front Desk and discussed class and racial justice. 4-7 students read Wonder and discussed physical ability and lookism.
DEI in Action for Adult Community
Curriculum for the students is strongest when the adult community takes part in educational experiences that complement the student program. These experiences help them engage in the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion, learning alongside the students, as they realize the potential to become a truly just society for all. Below is a list of resources that reflect some of the DEI education to date.
If Adults Don’t Talk to Children about Race (article summary with link to full article).
Jennifer Harvey Raising White Kids
Limitless Mind by Jo Boaler