An Update to the Community
June 19, 2020
Last week I wrote to the community updating you on the efforts we are making toward Harley becoming a more diverse and inclusive school. If you haven’t had time to give it read, I hope you will and it’s below—there’s a lot here, and I invite you to both support the work and, importantly, hold us to the commitments.
Since then the faculty has re-engineered its summer reading and professional development program to include DEI work, with our teachers reading either How to Be An Anti-Racist or White Fragility and forming book groups. Parents are also forming book groups around those titles. In addition, summer programming is unfolding, with our first evening event just announced:
- “Hate Crimes and Justice: Rebooting the Fight against Systemic Bias and Violence.” Presented by Harley parent Andrea Gluckman P ’24, hosted by Karen Saludo P ’27. Monday, June 29 from 6:30-7:30pm live via Zoom
And we are planning for more.
In this national moment of racial reckoning, we have taken Juneteenth off this year, and we have gathered some resources for those who would like to learn more about the occasion:
That last piece is from the National Museum of African American History & Culture, and there’s a line in it—”Juneteenth marks our country’s second independence day”—that reminds us of a bit of Rochester history: it was here, in Corinthian Hall, where Frederick Douglass delivered his seminal speech, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”
Larry Frye: Communications to All School
Monday morning I wrote to all of you with a reflection on the events of the weekend, both in Rochester and throughout the United States. In today’s follow-up, I am including the voices of the entire leadership team of the Harley School. There is so much to say and do.
Let’s start with saying a few things:
- Discrimination on the basis of race is unacceptable, not to mention antithetical to the mission of Harley. The steady procession of black Americans killed by white police officers is a pox on the core American ideals of justice, fairness, and equity.
- Discrimination and racism of this kind is also, tragically, central to the American story. It is our original sin narrative, animating more societal ills than one can count—from housing to poverty to the police violence that has led to today’s protests. And, yes, access to education like the one we provide at Harley.
- These events affect different members of the Harley family differently. In particular, the school is about 32% students of color right now: this moment is different for them than it is for the majority white students. It just is.
- But these events diminish us all.
We at Harley stand with all those who are affected by recent events, especially the families of our students of color. “Stand with” is better than “stand against,” of course, but not enough. What are we going to do?
- Respect the student voice and keep it at the center of our work. The Upper School SOCA (Students of Color & Allies) is hosting a dialogue this week as a place to start. The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee of the Harley Board is meeting with them Friday to process what is going on right now and to chart a collective path forward for students and adults in the Harley community. This may lead to ongoing conversations, town halls, a place in Summer Learning Connections ….
- We are beginning plans for a Commons Speaker Series type of event for later in the summer.
- Self-examination. Harley has done some good educational work when it comes to power, privilege, and equity—in fact, we have presented at conferences on our Rights & Responsibilities curriculum—yet we feel we have much more to do.
- We need to do better in connecting curriculum to the world around us
- We will audit Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in our curriculum this coming year and make changes where we find gaps.
- We will conduct the Assessment of Inclusivity and Multiculturalism (AIM) from the National Association of Independent Schools this coming fall, the planning for which was interrupted by Covid-19.
- We will examine the “hidden curriculum”—it’s one thing to study these issues in class, but what about the lunchroom, hallways, and athletic fields?
- We will continue with gatherings of our parents of students of color and seek to build connection in our community
- The DEI Committee of our Board of Trustees has charged the School with seeing that our faculty and staff becomes more diverse: 10-15% people of color within four years. We will make progress in this area next year and ultimately achieve the goal we have set.
- We will continue to build bridges between the Harley community and the Horizons at Harley community for both children and adults.
When people visit Harley, we always spend time talking about the mission of the school and the philosophy that drives our work. It can seem a little egghead-y, at times, but it’s crucial—there’s just no more important question than, Why do you do what you do?
We want to prepare children for the world as they will actually find it, and give them the tools to live with purpose. They will inherit a deeply flawed world. They will need to find their voice and to learn to listen, and they will have to know how to make change. Everything we do at Harley—from Lower School Assembly to the Middle School Advisory to Upper School athletics and the Shakespeare competition—is actually in service of those goals.
Be with us on this journey, and hold us to our aspirations.
Harley’s Administrative Team: Larry Frye, Kirsten Allen Reader ’90, Lars Kuelling, Hassan Jones, Terry Smith, Kim McDowell, Whitney Brice, Robin Mitchell, Peter Mancuso, Seth O’Bryan, Beth Bailey, Ken Motsenbocker and Shelli Reetz
It can be very hard to know how to talk about these issues, especially with children, and we have compiled some resources that we hope you find helpful:
- Article from USA Today: George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. What do we tell our children?
- “How to Talk to Your Children about Protests and Racism,” CNN
- “Age-Related Reactions to a Traumatic Event” from The National Child Traumatic Stress Network
- Trevor Noah personally reflects on recent events and racism in America here. This is very thought-provoking, powerful and clear.
- “Supporting Vulnerable Students in Stressful Times: Tips for Parents” from The National Association of School Psychologists”
USA Today also created a good reading list:
- For books dealing with social justice topics: Social Justice Books
- For young children (ages 4-8): Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story about Racial Injustice, by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard
- Especially useful for white parents: Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America by Jennifer Harvey
- Daddy Why Am I Brown?: A healthy conversation about skin color and family by Bedford F. Palmer
- A Terrible Thing Happened by Margaret HolmesBooks for Collegial Circles
Recommended by TIG: The Consortium on Trauma Illness and Grief in Schools:
- How to be an Anti-Racist by Ibram Kendi
- The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
- Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome by Dr. Joy DeGruy
- Automating Inequality by Virginia Eubanks
- Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram Kendi.
- Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram Kendi & Jason Reynolds
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