Nightingale's Commitment to Becoming a Truly Anti-Racist School

August 6, 2020

This July Nightingale invited current parents to a virtual gathering to share an update on our 2020 Summer Action Plan. The Plan comes in the midst of our nation’s overdue racial justice reckoning, and was inspired by the accounts shared by members of our community of instances when Nightingale was not experienced as inclusive and welcoming to all.

Detailed below is an update to our entire community on the Plan. Nightingale has an opportunity and a responsibility to start its second century by fearlessly confronting those parts of our school that have clearly not been inclusive to all. Those who have courageously used their voices to draw attention to these biases have ignited this necessary process of reflection and action. We cannot undo the harm that has been done, but we can seek to understand it, restore trust and rebuild relationships. It is time to fully embrace Nightingale’s mission to educate our students’ minds and hearts, and actively seek ways to do better for all of our students.

Nightingale has listened to the inputs from our community and are partnering with leading experts in diversity, equity and inclusion, education, and restorative practices to build a set of policies, procedures and protocols that will support us in realizing our goal of creating an anti-racist, inclusive, fully supportive community. For those not familiar with restorative practices, it is a process by which members of a shared community unpack the distinction between intent and impact, build bridges and understand perspectives that are different from their own. We will train Nightingale faculty, staff and students on these principles so that our entire community is better equipped to bring our best selves to difficult conversations and situations, and to reach higher, together.

We will, additionally, leverage our greater understanding of the systemic nature of racism and arrange for all of our students and families to participate in programs designed to raise awareness of both systemic racism and our own unconscious biases. We are also committed to taking all appropriate actions to ensure that we have a community that is consistent with our inclusive values.

Regarding curriculum and pedagogy, we are:

  • conducting a deep dive into each department to develop a more inclusive, culturally competent curriculum.
  • deepening our faculty’s knowledge of equity literacy, defined by Teaching Tolerance as "having the skills and dispositions that allow us to create and sustain equitable and just learning environments for all families and students."
  • ensuring that all literature authored by people of color is normalized, not tokenized, within the curriculum.
  • increasing the percentage of novels read in English and reading classes that are written by people of color.
  • incorporating lessons that explore the lived experiences of people of color through a holistic lens in order to disrupt any impressions that the Black experience is monolithic.
  • devoting time in our first classes in September to foster and sustain an anti-racist environment.
  • instituting a framework for counseling and trauma-informed pedagogy.
  • reviewing departmental grading practices to promote equity and to provide sufficient space to take risks without penalty.

Regarding the recruitment of an increasingly diverse community, we are:

  • partnering with historically Black colleges and universities, as well as organizations that specialize in employee diversity, to recruit more faculty of color to Nightingale.
  • putting into action the newly-formed Student Hiring Committee, which consists of students voted upon by their peers, to interview prospective faculty.
  • asking all prospective faculty to meet with Johara Sealy, our Director of Diversity and Equity.
  • including a clear commitment to anti-racism in admissions and hiring materials.

Regarding the measurement and sharing of progress, we will:

  • conduct a climate survey and incorporate best practices from independent schools and universities with strong records of inclusivity and equity.
  • provide detailed updates to the community on a regular basis.

Regarding the auditing of our policies and procedures, we are:

  • updating and retooling the current complaint guidelines to ensure that students feel safe and comfortable reporting instances of micro-aggressions or racist behavior and that we follow up with those students who raise concerns to address these instances in a transparent manner.
  • creating a bias incident protocol and identifying effective options for resolution.
  • amending the handbook to include more explicit and robust protections and intolerance for racism, discrimination and micro-aggressions in any form.
  • working with an independent auditor to review all existing policies to assess whether they contribute in any way to a culture of discrimination at Nightingale.