An Update on Catlin Gabel’s Antiracism Work

 

October 29, 2020

Dear Catlin Gabel Community,

In recent months we have shared with you steps we are taking to ensure that every student feels heard, known, and valued at Catlin Gabel School. We know that we will not achieve our school’s mission until we have equitable systems and practices in place to support our increasingly diverse community. As we wrote in our July 25 message, “We acknowledge as an institution the lived experiences of inequity expressed by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in our school community, and we commit ourselves to doing the work to make meaningful change.”

To guide the steps we will take, our antiracism work group crafted an overarching vision statement, which was reviewed by students, employees, parents, and the administration and was also endorsed by our Board of Trustees. We are sharing that statement with you.

Working Vision for Catlin Gabel School as an Antiracist Institution
(Approved October 1, 2020)

Consistent with our mission and values, Catlin Gabel School is committed to becoming an antiracist institution. We expect all members of the Catlin Gabel community to realize this vision by committing to individual and collective action through policies, practices, and behaviors.

At Catlin Gabel we seek to be an antiracist institution by:

  • Acting to identify and eradicate curriculum, pedagogy, policies, and culture that sustain white supremacy;
  • Listening to and elevating the voices of Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, and other people of color;
  • Holding everyone accountable for racist behaviors, comments, and harassment;
  • Educating students and all community members about how local, national, and global history inform racial dynamics;
  • Educating students about systems that affect our current experience of privilege, power, and oppression;
  • Recognizing the positive influence and impact of people of color in our school and beyond; and
  • Expecting white community members to understand and acknowledge their privilege and support this vision through self-education.

Diversity Action Council and Board Inclusivity and Diversity Committee

The school’s Diversity Action Council is coordinated by Director of Inclusion and Outreach Jasmine Love, and the Board’s Inclusivity and Diversity Committee is coordinated by PFA President Mimi Sei. To achieve a more equitable school, we have charged this council and this committee to pursue work in the following areas:

Responsibilities of the Diversity Action Council
(teachers, staff, students, alumni, parents):

  • Antiracist Curriculum: Collaborate to research, curate, and develop standards for antiracist curriculum and instructional practices across grade levels.
  • Antiracism Training for Teachers and Staff: Examine teachers’ needs as they create antiracist classrooms and provide resources to meet those needs.
  • Community Partnerships: Better understand how we connect CGS to the larger community through curriculum, equity-based partnerships, and the businesses CGS supports.
  • Beyond Eurocentric Culture to Equitable Practices: Define and understand Eurocentric culture at CGS, examine school practices, and make recommendations to dismantle inequitable practices and traditions.
  • Truth and Reconciliation: Learn and acknowledge the history and experience of marginalized and underrepresented students and provide opportunities for support and reconciliation.
  • Admissions and Hiring: Use an equity and antiracism lens to look at admissions and hiring practices at CGS to support the enrollment, hiring, and retention of BIPOC students and employees.

Responsibilities of the Board’s Inclusivity and Diversity Committee
(trustees, administrators, students, alumni, parents):

  • Provide resources and support for the institution and the Board as we enact an antiracist vision at Catlin Gabel.
  • Develop a culturally responsive board with equitable recruitment practices, ongoing education, and criteria for equitable strategic decision-making.
  • Create a viable structure for the amplification of voices of color and policies that support admitting, hiring, supporting, and retaining students and employees of color.
  • Invest in research and assessment of the best uses for resources already allocated to support antiracist initiatives. Identify new resources.
  • Ensure that all in our community feel safe, valued, and welcomed.

Antiracism Collective

In addition to these two committees, Upper School students have formed the Antiracism Collective whose mission is to invite the community to “analyze their privilege, focus on antiracism, and understand the experiences of BIPOC on campus.” The Collective is organized into three committees: education, facilitation, and outreach. Members already have led a workshop for the Board and will seek to learn how systems work at our school, and organize various community opportunities, including assemblies and student surveys.

Financial Resources to Support Change

As students, educators, and trustees move our antiracism efforts forward, we recognize that it will be essential to secure and allocate financial resources to support change.

Funds for Today: We are deeply grateful to David Recordon ’04, who last summer made a generous donation and challenged our community to match his gift in support of this work. David’s gift combined with gifts from parents, alumni, employees, and friends generated $86,000 to be used this year. This allowed us to expand Erica Babino’s part-time role to a full-time position as Assistant Director of Inclusion and Outreach, with diversity recruiting and retention as part of her responsibilities. These funds also are supporting English teacher Krystal Wu in leading our PS-12 antiracist curriculum efforts and will support antiracism employee training and community speakers and events.

Funds for Tomorrow: As we begin to embark on the school’s next capital campaign, we are setting a goal of raising $10 million to endow a Responsible Action Fund. This endowment will enhance our ability to recruit and retain diverse, talented teachers and permanently fund positions in the Inclusion and Outreach Office. It also will provide grants for innovation in teaching and support talented students by providing increased access to financial assistance.

Additional Actions

In addition to these efforts, other actions include:

  • Creating a new oppressive language policy;
  • Improving racial incident reporting mechanisms;
  • Auditing our current commitment and opportunities to invest in local BIPOC businesses; and
  • Involving alumni in identifying opportunities for mentoring, working with affinity groups, and more.

We are grateful to all constituents for sharing with us their experiences and ideas, and for recognizing the essential need for change. Our vision for becoming an antiracist institution requires leadership by the Board and administration, active engagement by all community members, and a sustained school-wide effort.

We can and must summon the will and courage to ensure that our mission and values hold true for all community members. This is necessary for each student’s happiness and success and to ensure that Catlin Gabel School adds value to the world.

We continue to invite your feedback by emailing us at hos@catlin.edu. There is much that we can learn from one another, and we won’t always get this important work right, but that will not deter us from moving forward. We plan to share updates with you on a bi-annual basis. Thank you for your support and your belief that positive change is essential and possible.

Tim Bazemore
Head of School

Indira Nallakrishnan
Chair of the Board of Trustees