July 3, 2020
Dear GFS Community,
With deep respect and solidarity for our Black students who have courageously told their stories of aggressions and microaggressions, and in unity with those who have brought these experiences forward, we are committed to making GFS safer and stronger with bold, swift, and direct action.
Today, we write to share a working plan for our renewed approach to equity and anti-racism at GFS—developed in partnership with the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Officers of the School Committee, and with guidance and input from many: our students; the Faculty and Staff of Color group and other members of our faculty and staff; BlackatGFS; The Inter-Ac and Independent School Black Alumni Association; GFS alumni and families; neighborhood and education partners; and many others. Becoming a truly anti-racist community will be a process—one of holistic change—but we also recognize the urgency in moving forward with this work. These important, pervasive changes are designed to ensure that current and future students feel safe, celebrated, and honored.
We have identified immediate actions already put into place this week, steps that will be implemented over the summer, others that will take time, and many that are ongoing. A timeline for our actions will be forthcoming and this plan will be adapted and strengthened as we hold our Community Conversations and as we hear more voices, particularly those of our Black community members.
Outlined priorities and action items include, but are not limited, to the following:
Update and Improve Protocols for Safety and Accountability:
- Establish a team that includes a representative of the DEI Office to review and adjudicate reports of racially based bias, discrimination, and microaggressions
- Establish clear processes, consequences, and protocols for any individual found to have committed bias or discriminatory acts; audit all handbooks and policies to ensure anti-racism and anti-discrimination statements are clear and complete
- Ensure that all members of the community understand that racist remarks, actions, and behaviors will not be tolerated
Require and Expand Anti-racist Training and Education:
- Expand professional development requirements for faculty and staff related to race and equity, and require all members of administration to participate in a yearlong program of Seeking Equity and Educational Diversity (SEED)
- Create space in the advisory periods in Middle and Upper Schools for implicit bias and microaggression education and require students to attend teach-ins and dialogue days
- Require School Committee members to participate in annual trainings
- Introduce plan for parent and caregiver education and dialogues
Deepen Culturally Responsive Pedagogy and Anti-racist Curriculum:
- Continue curriculum review and make revisions to bolster anti-racism and DEI content across all divisions
- In Lower School, expand Anti-Racism Curriculum (ARC) and extend racial affinity group conversations to 3rd and 4th graders
- Launch an anti-racist curriculum for Middle School
- Launch required African American History course in fall 2021 (elective will continue to be offered in 2020-21)
- Continue piloting Grading for Equity standards
Build Affirming Environment and Partnerships:
- Review and remake public and classroom spaces to reflect, represent, and celebrate Black life and inclusiveness
- Establish Student Advisory Groups to partner with leadership, DEI Office, and Communications
- Continue and expand the intentional pathway for people of color to leadership positions
Increase Representation and Retention Across the School:
- Update School Committee composition to allow for greater diversity
- Expand efforts to recruit Black faculty and staff and establish a need-based fund to support the pursuit of continuing education and advanced degrees, prioritizing faculty/staff of color
- Expand efforts to recruit and retain Black students; Provide support for the Director of Diversity Recruitment to enhance our relationships and community partnerships that yield increased admission for Black and otherwise diverse applicant pool
We know that for this work to be effective, every part of our school must be considered. And we will report back to the community as we go.
As part of the process of listening, healing, and taking action, we invite you to join us for one of our upcoming Community Conversations, which will be held over Zoom and led by an outside facilitator starting next week. These conversations are designed to give members of our community the opportunity to share thoughts and feelings about racism at GFS and give feedback on the working plan. Please visit this page for session dates and times. If the sessions fill up, we will plan additional opportunities.
We cannot go back in time, but we can fix the future. We thank you for your partnership in moving this most critical work forward.
Head of School
Clerk of the School Committee