Diversity Mission Statement
Differences Lift Us
We believe that diversity of all kinds enables us to better understand ourselves and others, value multiple lived experiences, practice advocacy, and become co-conspirators and activists toward creating a more just and equitable world.
We define diversity as inclusive of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender identity, sexual orientation, family structure, neurodiverse learning styles, age, ability, nationality, immigration status, physical appearance, religion, belief systems, language, and more. A diverse, inclusive, and respectful community enhances the academic and emotional intelligence of all students and lays the foundation for them to make a change in meaningful and mindful ways.
Differences lift us.
For more on diversity and inclusion at CDS, please refer to the information below and the resources in the sidebar on the left.
Diversity at CDS
In 2020, members of our Antiracist Task Force composed the following statement on antiracism which heralds a call to action and gives rise to the following antiracist action plans:
CDS recognizes that the land upon which we work and play is unceded Ohlone land, forcibly taken by colonists years ago to build Mission Dolores, creating a diaspora of Indigenous peoples. Given current and historical violence against Black communities, CDS is committed to supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and to helping our students, families, faculty, and staff feel it. We have taken steps to raise awareness, teach antiracist curriculum, and practice antiracist pedagogy. We can do more and we will do more, with a reignited sense of urgency. We recognize the need to continually interrogate and decolonize our curriculum and reexamine our policies and practices towards building an antiracist ethos at CDS. Through actionable plans, accountability, and support, CDS employees, students, and families are all committed to dismantling racism as co-conspirators in an active practice. We will work to build connections with BIPOC-led businesses and organizations that align with our mission, beliefs, and values. We commit to promoting diverse leadership by actively recruiting and retaining BIPOC candidates through transparent and anti-bias hiring practices and by providing opportunities for professional advancement within our organization. Through ongoing reflection, open conversation, common language, and an authentic approach, we hope to build a more equitable and just future for communities under attack and for all our children. We encourage our community members to think about how we can each be antiracist activists at school and at home.
If we are successful in creating an environment that is truly antiracist and multicultural, how will students, faculty & staff, and families ultimately know and feel it?
Start from the Beginning
- CDS recognizes that the land upon which we work and play is unceded Ohlone land, forcibly taken by colonists years ago to build California Missions, creating a diaspora of Indigenous peoples. We will continually acknowledge and engage with this past in the present.
Teaching and Learning
- Our antiracism efforts will be noticeable from the moment someone interacts with CDS - they will be challenged to think deeply about their own beliefs and what an independent school can be.
- Our language, behavior, and interactions will reflect our antiracist ethos, ideas, and practices.
- Leadership positions and opportunities will be shared equitably among people with different identities and experiences.
- People will feel comfortable bringing their whole, authentic selves to our school, classrooms, supervisors, and community events.
- All members of the community will feel empowered to step up, speak out, and risk making mistakes.
- “Call-in” culture will invite authentic and sometimes hard conversations in a supportive environment, meeting people where they are and holding them accountable to go beyond.
- There will be more opportunities to share and learn from each other, to get uncomfortable.
- Our curriculum will directly reflect our commitment to anti-racist teaching and will be clearly articulated through common, grade-appropriate language.
- We will celebrate cultural & religious holidays.
- We will promote student activism and agency among all students.
- Are all encouraged to move forward through curricular modules, book discussions, affinity groups, and more.
- Will support student learning through shared resources and adult education.
- Will share ways they practice antiracism in their families.
- We will address and re-envision a hierarchy of power at CDS that is more intentionally shared with BIPoC and consistently adhere to hiring practices that demonstrate antiracist, multicultural values.
- There will be increased transparency in decision making, as evidenced by multiple perspectives and a push for greater representation.
- There will be increased transparency in compensation.
- We will bring DEI awareness to partner organizations, donate when we can, use our voice as a community, and continue to push for justice alongside the Black Lives Matter movement.
- We will continue to create brave spaces where people feel empowered to speak up without fear of retribution.
- Antiracist work is a *feeling* people get from interactions more than something done or seen. We will continue to discuss ways that can lead to everyone having this feeling.
- Overall, we strive for a sense of curiosity and engagement from learning experiences that matter, a feeling of safety and security from knowing everyone is respected, and ultimately a sense of joy from all constituents feeling visible and valued.
- We encourage people to continually ask: how are we practicing antiracism in our lives?
The Committee on Inclusion and Diversity (COID) was created by the CDS Board of Trustees during the 2006–2007 school year with a goal of ensuring a diverse CDS community and providing strategic direction.
Members of the faculty and staff also form a COID group. The focus is on achieving goals set by the board and developed independently by engaging with the entire CDS community to create an environment where all people can feel safe, visible, and valued.
Examples of recent or ongoing COID initiatives:
- CDS Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Toolkit - context, links, and ways we approach DEI at CDS
- Language Agreements - what language is best to use in conversation and what is better to avoid? We will periodically update this as language evolves.
- Gender Support Plans - we hope to partner with families in supporting children and their identities along the spectrum of gender. These support plans (Early Childhood, Lower, and Middle School programs) can help.
- How are we providing support and being culturally inclusive to ensure that all families feel welcome at CDS from the admissions process to graduation?
- Adult Education Nights to discuss issues of socioeconomic diversity, race and ethnicity, the gender spectrum, sexual orientation, language, privilege, and other important topics.
- Teachers on COID work on social justice curricula and also lead professional development with the faculty and staff.
- Affinity Groups - faculty and staff lead student affinity groups that promote a sense of pride, belonging, and community.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion work takes many forms from Early Childhood through Middle School. The following are examples, by department:
We consciously construct a curriculum that provides an anti-bias education, defined by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) as “an active/activist approach to challenging prejudice, stereotyping, bias, and the ‘isms’ in a society in which institutional structures create and maintain sexism, racism, and handicappism.” For example, on any given day you might see preschoolers:
- Reading books that reflect a variety of races, ethnicities, genders, and abilities, including The Colors of Us by Karen Katz, The Family Book by Todd Parr, All The Colors We Are/Todos los Colores de Nuestra Piel by Katie Kissenger, Shades of Black by Sandra L. Pinkney, family- and class-made books, and many more.
- Listening to guest speakers who break stereotypes, such as female firefighters, male nurses, and people with disabilities.
- Participating in project work that reflects the variety of people who make up our world, such as family share and parent activities, role playing, sharing family photos, introducing words and languages from families and teachers, looking at various cultural artifacts, tasting and cooking food from families represented in the classroom, and exploring ideas of equity and justice in the classroom and beyond.
In the elementary grades, students are eager and curious learners: they want to read and write, to add and subtract, to figure out the world and how it works. These years provide an important opportunity for teachers to build students’ empathy, their sense of fairness, and their commitment to equity and justice. Some examples of this include:
- Students role-playing experiences of fairness and justice to talk about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement.
- Discussing the realities of disabled individuals and assessing CDS’ accessibility for disabled people promotes student awareness about ableism and inclusion.
- Reading a storybook about a child who does not fit into gender boxes to talk about gender expression and diversity.
The middle school years are a critical time of intellectual, physical, and emotional change. At the same time, the reality is that there is tremendous external societal pressure to conform to some limited idea of acceptable sameness. So our teachers have the challenge—and the opportunity—to foster the empathetic imagination of our middle school students in order to reinforce ideas of equity and justice: that people do not have to be, think, or live the same way (understanding and tolerance), that all people have a right to their differences (giving people “space”), and that individual people's qualities and traits are theirs alone (avoiding stereotyping). A few examples:
- Media studies classes that explore sexism, racism, classism, and homophobia in our society.
- Our robust community-based learning program where students learn through doing, gaining understanding of the power of taking community action for positive social change and learning to value and appreciate people of all ages and means as citizens with talents and experiences to share.
- Students seeing themselves and others reflected in the world as they research mathematicians and scientists who are LGBTQ, people of color, and/or women.
We asked CDS families how they practice antiracism in various ways at home and 54 found time to complete a survey and share resources. We sincerely appreciate everything our families are doing at home as the faculty and staff continue our antiracist, diversity, equity, and inclusion work at school. Some families mentioned how difficult conversations can be, especially with extended family, peers, and even friends. To be clear, we’re having tough conversations with faculty, staff, and students as well that are challenging in many ways and at times uncomfortable. But we need this kind of real engagement to make real progress.
Our challenge to everyone: 1) Read this entire list, 2) Choose one way (minimum) of engaging every month. We appreciate the many ways people are thinking - and doing - something to keep moving toward becoming antiracist. Keep it up! (In Mandarin, we say 加油 “jiā yóu” which means to keep adding fuel to the effort).
We received responses from 54 families, some with children in multiple divisions:
- 20 from Early Childhood
- 31 from Lower School
- 17 from Middle School
Families practice being antiracist in the following ways:
- Conversations about their own racial identity: 94%
- Read, watch, listen, and attend events: 89%
- Reflecting on the impact of their identity/multiracial identities: 80%
- Discuss media looking at perspective and implicit bias: 69%
- Donate money online: 61%
- Support local Black/Indigenous-owned businesses and organizations: 57%
- Volunteer time with antiracist/essential needs organizations: 30%
- Discuss racism with peers, extended family, intergenerational (can be tough!), and at work. “Talk about my own family members’ struggle with racism.”
- Hold regular book club discussions with family and friends
- “Use the influence of small business to support initiatives” - e.g. created scholarships for Black people for vocational training in metal arts (fiatluxsf.com)
- Recognize and talk with children about sadness related to COVID, racism, and current events
- Practice mental wellness (meditation, check-ins, podcasts…)
- Join a Black Lives Matter protest
- “Celebrate our multiracial identities through food traditions - cooking, eating, discussing...helps kiddos feel a sense of connection to their roots, especially their non-white, non-American ones”
- “We search for and bring home books/games about racial identities that are the same and different than our own”
Listening to Podcasts:
- 1619 (NY Times)
- Michelle Obama (Spotify free account + elsewhere)
- Nice White Parents (NY Times)
- Hella Black - “All things related to Blackness.” They serve breakfast to people experiencing homelessness in Oakland - more info
Watching as a Family (check age appropriateness):
- 13th - How the 13th Amendment led to mass incarceration (Netflix)
- When They See Us - About the Central Park 5 (Netflix)
- Hidden Figures
- Queen of Katwe
- Crash Course - video series about history with an antiracist lens (free)
- If Beale Street Could Talk
Websites/Articles for further action, education, and opportunities to connect:
- www.adpsr.org and www.designingjustice.org - end mass incarceration and transform our "justice" system towards healing and reparation through architecture
- NAACP Legal Defense Fund - get involved, donate
- We Got the Vote - end discrimination against people formerly incarcerated
- Black Mamas Matter - shift culture and support Black maternal health, rights, justice
- “Dear White Women”: The Public Classroom of Rachel Cargle - NY Times
- Mujeras Unidas Activas - Support the rights of immigrant women, volunteer opportunities
- Cal Nerds - Provides STEM education & resources to underrepresented populations
- Southern Poverty Law Center - Learn, volunteer, donate
- Fair Fight - Help fight voter suppression
- Community United Against Violence - Empowering LGBTQ communities to transform violence and oppression. Get involved!
- Embrace Race - talk about content with kids
- Latinx Parenting - bilingual organization rooted in children's rights, social and racial justice, and antiracism