12 Questions to Ask Before Your DEI-Anti-Racism Strategy Blows Up | Pat Bassett and Sanje Ratnavale | 13 Min Read

By Patrick F. Bassett, President, NAIS (retired), and Sanje Ratnavale, President, OESIS Network

In some private schools the hunger for redemption regarding historic racism has unleashed a feast for journalists and Twitterati, eager to prove their role as arbiters of hypocrisy and lighthouses of virtue. Nevertheless, well-intentioned DEI (diversity, equity, & inclusion) plans are being hatched across the country, and they are focusing for the most part on allegations of systemic racism at schools. Systems thinking and systemic change acknowledge Newton’s Law that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.  It is in this context that the authors write together for this magazine (for a second time in the last year), not just to identify pitfalls but to offer solutions. We are not here to opine on the need for an anti-racist canon at your school (any more than we would deign to critique any religious underpinnings at a parochial school) or whether antiracism itself forms an acceptable mission or valid set of purposes. We are here to look at the implementation approach critically from an educator lens, not a doctrinaire perspective.

We start with the spectrum of demands and actions that schools have contemplated around DEI or…

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Sanje Ratnavale

Sanje founded OESIS in 2012 and serves as the President of what has grown to become the leading network for innovation at independent schools: the acronym OESIS grew from the initial focus on Online Education Strategies for Independent Schools. He has held senior administrative positions at independent schools including Associate Head of School at a K-12 school for seven years, High School Principal for three years, and CFO for seven years. Prior to making a switch to education, Sanje spent 15 years in venture capital, investment banking, and senior C-level (CEO, COO, CFO) management. He was educated at Christ Church, Oxford University (B.A. and M.A. in Law/Jurisprudence). Sanje is based out of Santa Monica.