Socio-Economic Class in Independent Schools: An Educational Approach Carol Swainson, Head of Middle School Head-Royce School, Oakland, CA NYSAIS Diversity Conference April 12, 2007
You signed up for this! Socio-economic class in Independent Schools is a multifaceted issue that usually conjures up thoughts of financial aid, admissions and fiscal sustainability. However, attention to these issues alone leaves a void in our students’ educational experience. In a time of globalization and interconnectedness, schools need to teach students about how class impacts individuals, communities and the world. Through the video People Like Us: Social Class in America, participants will acquire tools to begin discussions on class that can be included in courses, assemblies or advisory programs. These materials will also help facilitate community dialogue that will promote greater understanding and sensitivity in the Independent School milieu.
Overview • What do I know, anyway? • What’s on your mind? • Why is this important to Independent Schools? http://www.nais.org/publications/ismagazinelist.cfm?Itemnumber=148107&sn.ItemNumber=145956&tn.ItemNumber=145958
The World http://users.gazinter.net/melan/Warn/Warnenu.htm
Why is this topic so challenging? • The myth of the middle class and the classless society • The mainstream definition of success • The inherent elitist history of independent schools • The class struggle between educator and the students they educate • The relationship of race and class • And more…
People Like US The Film’s Resources http://www.pbs.org/peoplelikeus/resources/index.html
The Facts According to the U.S. Census (www.census.gov) • U.S. median household income (in 2005 inflation-adjusted dollars) $46,242 • New York State median family income (in 2005 inflation-adjusted dollars) $59,686 http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/ACSSAFFFacts?_event=&geo_id=16000US3651000&_geoContext=01000US%7C04000US36%7C16000US3651000&_street=&_county=New+York&_cityTown=New+York&_state=04000US36&_zip=&_lang=en&_sse=on&ActiveGeoDiv=geoSelect&_useEV=&pctxt=fph&pgsl=160&_submenuId=factsheet_1&ds_name=null&_ci_nbr=null&qr_name=null®=null%3Anull&_keyword=&_industry=
The Facts (continued) • The New York City median family income (in 2005 inflation-adjusted dollars) $49,374 • Manhattan median family income (in 1999* inflation-adjusted dollars) $47,030 *2005 data is not available at this time.
The Overall Distribution • http://www.answers.com/topic/household-income-in-the-united-states
Educational Approaches • Interconnected World: Philosophy, Texts and Courses • Advisory Discussions: Self-awareness, reflection and activism • Service Learning: dispelling stereotypes, local, national, international • School Policy, Parent Education & Administrator/Faculty/Staff Professional Development
Interconnected World: Texts and Courses Resources: The World on Fire by Amy Chua An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore
Environmental History (12th grade) http://headroyce.rubiconatlas.org/browse/browsecoursedetail.asp?UserID=0&YearID=2007&SessionID=4782&NTS=4%2F13%2F2007+7%3A33%3A43+PM&by=Grades&id=4&idname=Grade+12&TeacherID=77&Teacher=Scott%2C+Paul&ClassID=137&CourseType=Course&Course=Environmental+History&SchoolID=3&SchoolName=Upper+School&Grade=Grade+12
Advisory Discussions: Self-awareness, reflection and activism • Queries & Questions • Role Playing • Games • Research • Advocacy
Questions & Queries What is the difference between privilege and accomplishment? How are you privileged? Make a list of your privileges. Is our current class structure sustainable?
Role Playing & Games • Act out a scene when a student tells another student that her/his clothes are so cheap. They look like they are from Target. • Card Game & Discussion • Distribute cards to participants and tell them not to look at them. Cards should be placed on the forehead for others to see. • Tell participants to group themselves with people like themselves and treat others who have different cards accordingly. • Ask participants to line up in sequence according to the card they believe they have. • Allow them too look at their cards and begin discussing how they felt during the activity, how they acted and how they believe this relates to real life.
Research Ask students to find 5 distinct definitions of success. • The information must be gathered from a range of people. • Students will craft their own definition of success. • Compile the definitions electronically. • Students identify themes and trends in the information and discuss their own definition relative to the research and their peers. • Questions: Did your definition change or strengthen during this project? Did anything surprise you? How does your definition of success fit in with your family members? What do you feel is the school’s definition of success?
Service Learning • How to avoid perpetuating stereotypes. • Local: soup kitchen with training on cost of living and how easy it is for anyone to become homeless • National: American Friends Service Committee, homestays • International: construction work in Puerto Rico or Ecuador
Advocacy • Give students opportunities to share how class is used within the school context. • Allow them to practice ways to intercept unkind behavior. • Provide them with scripts in anticipation of difficult moments.
School Policy, Parent Education and Faculty/Staff Professional Development • Modeling • Access • Scripts • Community Dialogue
Administrator/Faculty/Staff Professional Development • Scenarios & Case studies • Role playing • Surveys
Scenarios 1. A teacher asks for photos of kids’ houses for a unit on neighborhoods. During the class presentation, kids start talking about whose house is bigger and better. 2.During a service project at a soup kitchen, a child comments that “all poor people are Black.” Black classmates don’t know how to respond.
Scenarios 3.Students are using the word "ghetto" to describe things such as the broken headphones, someone’s clothes or the way another student acts.
Scenarios 4. I wanted to mention that one way we dealt with having independent school kids who did not have the means of many of their classmates was the following. When they were in about 2nd or 3rd grade, through MS, they often wanted the pricey toys they saw at friends’ houses: Nintendo and the like. They wanted to focus on how their friends had these things because they were rich, and we did not have them because we did not have much money. We turned that thinking around by telling them that even if we had millions of dollars, we would not have a Nintendo. We turned the focus from money to values, and it helped them a lot to be clear about their own values.
Community Dialogue Part I • Economic Diversity Panel 2001 • Video Clip • What is class in America • What do children need to know developmentally to build a healthy sense of self within an economically diverse community? • Panel • Principals, Counselors, Director of Financial Aid, Quaker Trustee • What do your parents and peers need to understand about socio-economic class differences at SFS in order to make this a more sensitive or welcoming environment? • Is there a personal story that you can share to illustrate your feelings on this issue? • Is there a personal story that reflects how class differences are played out at Sidwell? Feel free to draw from you experiences from any grade level. • How does the Quaker testimony of simplicity conflict with the larger American values of material wealth and definition of success?
Community Dialogue Part III • Economic Diversity Panel Discussion • 6-8:30pm, Wednesday, January 18, 2006 • Goals for the evening: • Dispel myths about SFS. Clarify the perceptions. (Make a PPT of the facts). Describe what SFS does to level the playing field. Share the Quaker relationship to wealth. • Contextualize the economics of DC relative to the nation. What are the trends according to NAIS. • Clarify the parent’s role about this issue relative to a child’s developmental needs. Allow the community to talk to each other about how they can help students.
Sidwell Friends School Roundtable DialogueEconomic Diversity at Sidwell Friends: Matters of Access and EquityDo differences in economic resources translate into different standards of learning and success for our children? 7-9pmThursday, April 20, 2006Lower School Multipurpose RoomThis interactive evening will allow participants to discuss these important issues by academic division. In advance of the gathering, participants are encouraged to read short articles on Economic Diversity in Independent Schools in the National Association of Independent Schools magazine, Independent School, winter 2006. Links for articles will be posted on the SFS PA Diversity webpage. We will also discuss scenarios presented at the Economic Diversity program in January. Contact Carol Swainson, All-School Diversity Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org.Sponsored by: The Parents Association, The Diversity Advisory Group and the Institutional Diversity Committee of the Board of Trustees.PLEASE NOTE: Suggestions and recommendations from the roundtables will be shared with Head of School, principals, and the Board of Trustees Diversity and Quaker Life committees.
Review • Clarify school policy and philosophy with regards to access • Create opportunities for dialogue for all constituencies • Use the data and research available on the internet • Incorporate socio-economic class into program, professional development and parent education • Consider the discussion of class as it relates to questions of sustainability and global education • Support the emotional challenges this topic evokes (Humor and reflection are key.)