Fast forward to several years later. While Success Academy focuses on extreme equality, in the same building SIS has gotten a new principal and a new mission. This snippet gives a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the process shaping racial equity at the newly renamed BHS.
Publish Date: Feb 15, 2021
Fast forward to several years later. While Success Academy focuses on extreme equality, in the same building SIS has gotten a new principal and a new mission. This snippet gives a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the process shaping racial equity at the newly renamed BHS. Hear audio of some of the new training in action, with host Chana Joffe-Walt examining its upshot.
This past spring, a black teacher, a success academy named Fabulous Saint Hilaire publicly criticized the CEO for not taking a stand after the murder of George Floyd or acknowledging the effect police violence was having on the families and communities. Success serves after that. More staff, families and alumni raised alarms about success, calling some of its practices racist and abusive. It's discipline policies the way white staff and leadership speak to kids and parents of color. In response, the CEO apologized, and Success has released a plan that commits to mandatory bias and sensitivity training for staff. The plan says they will create an equity team and review their culture, their relationships with staff and families and kids with quote, an attention and sensitivity to race. I read this plan and thought, Uh huh. There is a school that's already doing many of these things right in the same building, right upstairs. It's September 2019. I'm back at S s. It's been four years since the French gala and the drama with the P t. A. Rob, the dad who fundraise is he's not here anymore. His son finished middle school. I me is still here Her daughter is a junior in high school, and a new crop of sixth graders and their families are settling into the auditorium E The school is no longer called S I s The School for International Studies. It's now BHS the Boerum Hill School for International Studies. They changed the name again. BHS has a new principal. Nicole lands Lotto. She gets up on stage and the staff Cheers, Miss Lancelot A welcomes the new families to BHS. Any school is a microcosm of the world and we're blessed with beautiful diversity. Miss Lancelot lists the ways the school reflects the world race, ethnicity, language, gender. We are extraordinarily diverse community and it's a beautiful thing and we fight for it and we work on it. Mrs. Lanza Leto says BHS is going for true equity. She says the word equity three times in this welcome speech, Miss Lands Lotto is white, chatty, well liked with black hair that styled straight up the hair is really Miss Lancelot is defining feature picture boy band pompadour. She's worked here most of her professional career. Three year white families arrived. It s a S. Miss Lancelot. A was the assistant principal she won't say anything bad about that year. It was a learning experience. It's a process. Her predecessor, Miss Juman, talks about it the same way. Remember principles, diplomatic. They're careful not to place blame. But both of them said after that year, it was clear they needed to intervene. One of the first things Miss Lands Lado Dida's principle was request special permission to reserve 40% of the seats for kids who get free and reduced price lunch. The majority of kids who get free and reduced price lunch Our kids of color and Miss Lancelot Oh, didn't want the school to flip. She didn't want black and brown kids to get pushed out. Three assistant principal told me they wanted to make sure the school did not become colonized. Something's here have changed. They got rid of the foundation the Brooklyn World Project Rob and the other white parents had created. They scrapped some of the French programming, hired more teachers and staff of color, and one of the most striking changes I notice. Spend 10 minutes of the school and you can't not notice miss lands. Ileto is talking directly and constantly about race and equity she told me. Everyone here needs to be on alert for racist habits and ideas. They need to aggressively address thumb whenever they pop up in the cafeteria, in the classroom. All there's a conversation happening in the school, around the smart classes in the non smart classes. Let's talk about it. Where is that coming from? So I think it's really about being a beast. I think it's about everything we do, coming back to it. Coming back toe equity. I could not get over how much time and energy the school puts into ensuring equity, not equality equity. It's almost like the obsessive focus success puts on. Making sure everything is the same is exactly matched by the obsessive focus BHS puts on recognizing. Everyone is not the same. Beach has formed an equity committee of staff and students. A few years ago, they looked for bias in the curriculum and the signs on their walls and the books on their shelves. They analyzed achievement data discipline data where they could clearly see that the school punished black boys more harshly than other students. So they revamped their entire approach to discipline, created a restorative justice department. They applied for grants to help pay for this, to train their teachers on implicit bias and then train them again. They brought in experts. And here's some things that I look for in transition. So how to kids engaged with each other is a verbal engagement. That non verbal engagement. Last fall, I watched to equity consultants Cornelius and cast minor show a group of BHS teachers how to observe racial dynamics in their school. Things involved teachers walking around in a huddle with clipboards, taking diligent notes as kids walk through the hallways. One fun lens to look at, and I'm just kind of like naming things, though I often asked what boys doing what girls doing, what are black students doing what they're like Students of color doing Mr Miner is full of fun things that teachers should look for. Here's another fun thing to Dio just because we're out here. Um, I do kind of like Dr Buys in the hallway where I walked by classroom windows and I look in, they all take turns peering through the small window of a classroom door. They take more notes later. The teachers meet as a group and one teacher Stacey and Man's well explains for observations from a math class and then in the math classroom that we were in something that stood out to me. So there was two white males white female blackmail and I'm walking around and blackmail. He was finished, and he finished early, waiting for his peers to do the think right fair share. And when the timer went off, the girl, the white girl he was sitting next to, he looked to her. But she looked to the two white boys and they formed the pair. So it was like now she had to work with him. But she was sort of looking for the other two boys for validation for what this boy was saying. So, like my teacher self is like, okay, does this child not participate in class? And she doesn't trust that he knows what he's doing? Or is it because she doesn't see him because he's a black boy? And she figures he's not capable? The teachers talked about this moment in depth, what it might mean, what messages the kids were picking up in their school, about race, about who's important, who's bad