DEI: Questions for understanding the initiatives in our schools | The Editor | 3 Min Read

For the past month, there has been no shortage of material published on the ways in which independent schools are addressing the issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Some schools have even added social justice to the equation. Without a doubt, Intrepid Ed News columnists will also submit their views on what schools could or should do, just as columnists from the national media have expressed. Our mission is to assemble a network of educator voices that, collectively, will help our readers, educators and parents, sort out the complexities of the many educational challenges, and help them formulate, reinforce, or rethink their own views. As such, my role as editor is to raise important questions for conversation and debate, but not to take a position or influence the thinking of our readers. I will attend to my responsibilities on the issue of DEI initiatives at independent schools.

Let’s begin with a couple of propositions that some believe to be true, but certainly might be challenged. First, almost every school acts with the best of intentions for their communities, and second, independent schools, by virtue of their selective structure, create inherent institutional obstacles to the ideal DEI environment. Each school has a different approach to addressing these two propositions. In doing so, here are a few questions that schools might ask or are likely asking themselves as they embark on this challenging journey. The answers to these questions will hopefully bring some clarity to our respective DEI initiatives.

  1. What’s the goal of your DEI program? Steven Covey always said, “begin with the end in mind.” What would you like your school and community to look like when you reach the successful end of your DEI initiative?
  2. What’s on the table for discussion and what’s not? Does your school have the capacity to make whatever structural and policy changes are necessary to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion? For example, are you in a position to make changes to your board policies, admissions and financial aid policies, academic policies, programmatic structure, and pedagogies in order to create an environment that supports the positive outcomes of a DEI initiative?
  3. What impact will your DEI initiative have on the curriculum? How will you structure that curriculum so that every student has an equal opportunity to be affirmed and successful? How will you define opportunity?
  4. Will you integrate social-emotional learning (SEL) with your…
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Joel Backon

Joel Backon has been the Editor of Intrepid Ed News since its inception in January 2021, responsible for all educator content on the website. He joined the OESIS Network, owner of Intrepid, in 2019 as Vice President. Joel spent much of his career at Choate Rosemary Hall (CT) where for 27 years he held founding roles in Information and Academic Technology, as well as being a classroom teacher, curriculum designer, coach, dorm head, and student adviser. Prior to Choate, Joel spent 15 years in the printing and publishing industry educating printers on how to maximize their strengths and minimize weaknesses. He has crusaded to achieve consensus on the question of why we educate kids in an effort to meet the learning needs of every student.