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Fall Parent Meeting: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

by added on 1 November 2018, Comments Off on Fall Parent Meeting: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion , posted in Blog
By Maggie Homer, Parent Educator

 

For this Fall Parent Meeting, Barbara Yasui is coming to speak to us on diversity, equity, and inclusion and what it means not only for our preschool community.

At our PAC Leadership training at Shoreline last June, Barbara Yasui challenged us to take another look at our mission statement and see where we can make it more reflective of our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We took this challenge head on and spent the whole summer dissecting WHY it was important to our WFP community. Countless hours were spent at board meetings hearing stories from people of different racial backgrounds, cultures, sexual orientations, and religions about why it mattered. There was laughter, tears, and ultimately, a clearer understanding of one another.

We wanted to share what we uncovered and unveil our new mission statement so you, too, can understand the changes we are making to create a school that is a microcosm of the world we wish to live.

New Mission Statement

Mission: To serve as a place where developmentally appropriate education for every family is the heart of a respectful, diverse community.

Our vision is to continue to be an exemplary early childhood/parenting education program with the highest standards of excellence. With individual needs in mind, we

  1. Honor and enhance relationships as a critical foundation for program equity and excellence.
  2. Value professional development, keep abreast of current research, and translate new knowledge into daily educational practices.
  3. Recognize and value the development and contributions of all members of our diverse preschool community, including children, parents, families, board, staff, and the community at large.

 

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Defined

I am going to quickly define diversity, equity, and inclusion so we all have a clear and common understanding of these words.

 

Diversity: a variety of experiences, identities, and backgrounds

No, diversity is not simply racial backgrounds. It encompasses all things that make us unique individuals. It’s our life experiences, education, religions, cultures, hairstyles, and socio-economic statuses, whatever! It is all things that make us different from the person sitting next to us.

 

Equity: when everyone has what they need to thrive

In America, we have historically been all about EQUALITY.  Equality is giving to everyone the exact same thing, even when needs are different.

To put this into parental terms, practicing equality would mean that I dress my infant in the same amount of clothing that I dress myself. It’s common knowledge that infants should wear one more layer than an adult to maintain a warm core temperature, but equality tells us that we all need the exact same thing. Practicing equality means my baby infant would be freezing outside for the sake of fairness.

Conversely, equity is when everyone is provided for according to his or her need. In an equitable home, I would wear my long sleeve shirt outside and my infant would wear his sweatshirt, hat, and booties and we would all be warm enough. Everyone is getting what he or she needs.

 

Inclusion: the state of being included within a group or structure

Barb Yasui did an activity where she handed out a sheet of paper and we had to fill the paper with the top 10 people we trust in this world (and it couldn’t be family!). Then we had to list characteristics of those people we most trust. The characteristics were gender, age, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation. The most common finding was that people trusted other people who looked and lived exactly like themselves.

For example, my list was comprised of white women in their 30’s who were married with children. My group…is not very inclusive. Sure, we may all have friends who vary in sexual orientation, socio-economic status, gender, etc. but do we trust them in our innermost circle? More often than not, the answer is no. And if you find yourself saying yes, then you are living in a beautifully inclusive way (thank you!).

 

What does this mean for us?

I don’t know about you, but I want my children to grow up in world much better than the one I find myself living in today. Early childhood is such an amazing field because here is where the groundwork is laid to build upon for the rest of our children’s lives. What we teach them from 0-5 years of age are some of the biggest life lessons they’ll never even know they were taught.

By creating a preschool environment that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive, we will be teaching our children these skills inherently. Just as our children learn through exploring and play, so they too learn through exposure to different racial backgrounds, cultures, and family structures. Media and other influences that perpetuate false characteristics of various groups of people have not yet affected our children.

I challenge you to reflect on your upbringing. What types of stereotypes were portrayed to you about gender? Race? Beauty? Money? The media and our upbringing directly affect our bias in an unconscious way. In order to mediate these stereotypes and biases, which are often negative toward groups of people, we have to first recognize our own bias. A wonderful tool to reveal your potential unconscious biases is the Implicit Bias Test. If you’re interested in learning more about the implicit bias, I recommend checking out The Blindspot.

It’s important to create an environment at WFP where our children see different cultures, family structures, socio-economic statuses, racial backgrounds whatever it may be and they are exposed to it enough to realize that behind all those labels is a friend who simply wants to play in the housekeeping area, or play butterfly wings outside, or read stories in the book corner.

If we lay the groundwork now, our children will be able to see the world through an equitable and inclusive lens.

 

What’s next?

There’s a responsibility that each and every one of us has to our children and to our WFP community to be advocates for these concepts, to further our knowledge, and to promote the message of being equitable and inclusive.

We want all families to feel welcome to attend and enroll in our preschool, and for every child to feel understood and accepted.

I hope this post gets you excited to hear more at our Fall Parent Meeting where Barbara Yasui will talk further on the importance of creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive learning environment for our children.

A member was kind enough to write out a wonderful list of children’s books on diversity of family structures. We have purchased these books for our preschool, so you will see them in the book area soon. Check them out below if you’d like to add them to your family library (and don’t forget to use AmazonSmile!).

 

  1. The Family Book by Todd Parr: https://www.amazon.com/Family-Book-Todd-Parr/dp/0316070408/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1539360384&sr=8-3&keywords=the+family+book
  2. Families, Families, Families, by Suzanne and Max Lang: https://www.amazon.com/Families-Suzanne-Lang/dp/0553499386/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1539360814&sr=8-1&keywords=families+families+families
  3. Who’s In My Family by Robie H. Harris: https://www.amazon.com/Whos-My-Family-About-Families/dp/0763636312/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1539360511&sr=8-1&keywords=whos+in+my+family+by+robie+harris
  4. The great Big Book of Families by Mary Hoffman: https://www.amazon.com/Great-Big-Book-Families/dp/0803735162/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1539360935&sr=8-1&keywords=the+great+big+book+of+families
  5. We Belong Together by Todd Parr: https://www.amazon.com/We-Belong-Together-Adoption-Families/dp/0316016683/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1539360658&sr=8-1&keywords=we+belong+together+book
  6. And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell: https://www.amazon.com/Tango-Makes-Three-Classic-Board/dp/1481446959/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1539361520&sr=8-1&keywords=and+tango+makes+three

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