I read what happened at the recent school board meeting. I want to express that Carmel needs diversity, equity and inclusion work in order to make its school system truly be on par with the quality of other Carmel city features.
DEI in education simply means that schools provide all students the support and resources they need to reach their fullest potential. It’s all about the students, not about Carmel filling quotas or just following some politically motivated actions because it is fashionable. This is real work. A focus on racial, economic and gender gaps in academic performance, for instance, might reveal how school policies perpetuate those disparities.
This is hard work. It’s unsettling for school staff and some members of the community to hear that their own beliefs and practices are contributing to the gap in achievement between white and affluent students and students who are Black, Hispanic,or from low-income backgrounds. It is upsetting to see that children from low-income families are less likely to be identified for gifted education compared to wealthier peers, even when they demonstrate the same achievement.
This is comprehensive work. DEI applies to the gamut of societal factors at play in a school district: race, gender, class issues, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, mental health, disability/special needs, women/girls’ issues, religion and beliefs, family status, national original, home language, immigration status, weight and other physical attributes. Attention must be paid to all adults who routinely come in contact with our children in school, not just the teachers. This includes administrators, school board members, curriculum specialists, food service workers, custodial staff and bus drivers, to name a few.
This work will probably not end any time soon. Racist, sexist, religious and other discriminatory policies and behaviors have existed for centuries. We won’t change overnight. This work is a journey, but one that welcomes everyone to join in life-affirming activities and programs along the way to benefit all of our Carmel students.
Elaine Mancini, Carmel