Upstanders in the New Year

By the Diversity Committee of the TPS Board of Trustees

"If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war,
we shall have to begin with the children."  — Mahatma Gandhi

At TPS, the importance of diversity is knit up in our commitment to progressive education. Progressive education fosters critical, empathetic, and socially engaged intelligence. A diverse community best fosters this kind of intelligence, and a diverse school community brings into the lives of its members a richness that is its own argument. It is the richness that arises when people of different cultures, histories, and world views teach and learn from one another. 

In light of the recent anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric that has been circulating in our country, the Diversity Committee of our Board of Trustees has reaffirmed the need to “stand up” and “speak out” against bigotry. TPS students learn the importance of being upstanders—recognizing when something said or done is wrong and taking action to make it right.  This lesson is important for our whole community in light of the bigoted public rhetoric that we’ve been hearing about the growing global refugee crisis and the violent acts in San Bernardino and in cities around the world. Fearmongers on the world stage are trying to turn these events to their own cynical political advantage, scapegoating whole religious and ethnic communities in the process.  In addition, recent racist and homophobic events in our city remind us of the dangers of complacency.

The beginning of a new year provides us with an important opportunity to reaffirm the school’s stance on diversity of all sorts. At TPS we embrace and value differences of religion, race, ethnicity, national origin, and sexual orientation. We stand up for the freedom of our students, faculty, staff, and their families, as of all people, to practice whatever faith they may choose and to take pride in their identities without being threatened, denigrated, or marginalized. And we condemn xenophobia in all its forms. Inclusivity isn’t a luxury we give up in uncertain times. It’s a value we must reaffirm and defend in the face of uncertainty.

Because progressive education means learning by doing, we live our commitment to diversity in our everyday interactions, building it into our curriculum and institutional culture. This ongoing work belongs to us all; it hones our minds, uncovers our biases, and helps us do our part in making a more just and compassionate future. Our aim is to build a community whose diversity reflects and interacts with the diversity of the world. We seek to make the world we hope to see. 

Below is a link to a resource (recommended by the National Association of Independent Schools) that was shared with our teachers in early December: 

Promoting Compassion and Acceptance in Crisis (National Association of School Psychologists)