Update on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Our Immediate Action Steps

My personal commitment this spring and summer has been to listen, learn, and deeply reflect on systemic oppression and racism. As I continue my own journey as a White educator and leader, I acknowledge what it means to work in and lead a school where our students have not all felt safe and supported–and I apologize for that. I believe in the responsibility of adults to care for, support, and teach our students to thrive and soar in the world. If we, and I, are not doing that successfully for all our students–and particularly our Black and Brown students–we need to change. We need to actualize this work more fully and rapidly so that the next school year is one where our students can see and feel our shift in practice, our responsiveness to concerns and feedback, and our revised curriculum and pedagogy. What happens each day on this campus, in classrooms, offices and hallways–through policies and structures–is what will most impact the lives of our students and graduates. 

Today we are providing an update on the concrete steps we are taking after Board Chair Tejal Patel '86 and I wrote last week about our commitment to continue to identify and dismantle racism, specifically anti-Black biases, at our school. We’ve also been closely following the stories and experiences from our BIPOC students, alumni, and Professional Community being shared on the BlackatHRS Instagram account, in emails, and in conversations. We will continue to take additional measures to effectuate change in our community so that everyone feels seen, heard, and supported.  

So, what’s next?

With our priorities clearly outlined under the pillars of Culture, Curriculum, and Community, we are enacting the following measures:

CULTURE:

  • Address the devastating use of racial slurs and other demeaning language in our community by creating a new policy on offensive language in the student and employee handbooks, as well as guiding faculty to create covenants for language in their classrooms. 

  • Require faculty and staff training (this summer and ongoing) to address several key focus areas, including anti-racism, grading for equity, and creating culturally responsive classrooms. 

  • Define and implement a protocol for reporting and responding to concerns and complaints from students about bias.

CURRICULUM: 

  • Reshape and reform our United States History curricula, including what we teach in California (4th grade) and US History (grades 5,7, and 10). This will include ensuring the texts we use and the stories we tell incorporate Black History and the many accomplishments of Black People.  

  • Critically review each division’s curriculum to better represent BIPOC positively, intentionally, and inclusively in every department, and in a way that aligns with the Teaching Tolerance framework for social justice. This will include the creation of new, division-specific cultural competency courses that will be an expectation for 5th and 8th grade promotions, and high-school graduation. Specifically:

    • Reshape and strengthen the identity and cultural awareness curriculum in the middle school with the addition of a CAFE course (Cultural Awareness for Everyone) to be completed in the 8th grade year as a promotion requirement.

    • Update the current 9th grade Health course to address issues of identity, intersectionality, and skills for dialogue across difference.

    • Identify and implement a similar, developmentally appropriate, curriculum in Lower School. 

    • Pilot an Upper School social justice course that we will work toward making a graduation requirement.

COMMUNITY:

  • Increase the opportunities for wider community engagement, including our Black Alumni Forum on June 29 and DEI Summer Speaker Series, launching with Dr. Howard C. Stevenson on Tuesday, July 14.

  • Initiate a Board Diversity Council to further the E&I work of the Board and to engage with the larger community, co-chaired by board members Vangeria Harvey and Rosanna Mucetti.

While this is a start, we have a lot of work ahead of us. The list above is what we have begun right now, and will continue to actively work on our long-term goals as the year unfolds. The work is hard, and sometimes uncomfortable. But we brace both these realities because we know it's the only way we will build and sustain a healthy and inclusive school culture. I am ultimately responsible for progress and positive change at Head-Royce, working in partnership with my administrative team including Shahana Sarkar, Dean of Academics and Community, Johára Tucker, Director of Equity and Inclusion Division Heads, Department Chairs, faculty and staff. In the spirit of transparency and accountability, we will provide frequent updates on our progress. 

Finally, we all continue to witness with sadness and urgency the events unfolding in our larger community and the nation. As a school set in one of the nation’s most racially and ethnically diverse cities, we are prepared to seize this moment in history to be a voice behind real change.

It’s time to get the work done.

- Crystal Land