Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Racism is deep and widespread in society. It dehumanizes and divides people in ways that hurt us all. Mirroring much of the dialogue and action witnessed across our nation, Waldorf schools are undergoing an intense and overdue period of reckoning. A moment of reckoning that calls on us to:

  • Confront the specter of White Supremacy now exposed more regularly in a wide array of social life.
  • Critically question the subtleties, silences, and absences in policies, structures, and practices that traditionally shape the dynamics that shape our communities.
  • Reevaluate the pedagogical legacy of Waldorf education and Rudolf Steiner in a way that meets and reflects all families. 

In this context, The Waldorf School of Philadelphia, in its 25th year, stands at a crossroads. One, thankfully, that encourages new actions that favor peace and justice. In order for our school and Waldorf schools across the country to get better, we must all work from our own spheres of influence to take new actions that favor peace and justice, undoing racism and creating a community that is anti-oppressive. 

We strive for a community where all students feel nurtured and loved deeply enough to develop their talents in the fullness of their humanity. We want our families to feel both supported by the school and connected favorably to each other. Again, we are sorry for the hurt and harm families have experienced, and continue to work hard to heal those wounds. Action must take the form of mindful shifts in policy and practice. 

In June 2020, Concerned Parents of Color trusted our institution enough to openly speak against patterns that hurt our community. Since then, we have been working to lay and reinforce a foundation for anti-oppressive teaching, learning, and leading. Prioritizing community reflections on undoing racism as a mindset, white fragility as a process, and anti-racism as a practice informs our institutional approach to this work today. 

Without question, our school’s support for meaningful action is steadfast. We continue to recognize that racism and white supremacy anywhere (including within our school) is a crisis of epidemic proportions. We continue to work hard to make sure that families and children of color feel safe, supported, and included within this community.  

We continue to address the anti-oppression work facing our community as an institution. We also understand that when it comes to this work, because of the cost of getting it wrong, one can never do enough fast enough. We are grateful to families of color who have continued to participate in this process and encourage us to do better. We recognize and honor the additional emotional labor this can take -- please know that we continue to work thoughtfully on the ten recommendations named in the letter. As reported below, updated on May 28th, 2021, we continue to make progress:   

Recommendation  Status
1 Retaliation protections for families and staff who speak out against racism. A Non-Retaliation Policy was implemented in September 2020.
2 An accountability plan for addressing discrimination complaints or concerns. A Racism, Discrimination, and Bias Incident Protocol was approved and implemented in September 2020 and continues to be refined based on feedback from our community.
3 A sustainability plan for retaining families of color. Updates to our school's sustainability plan were completed in April of 2021. The new plan is informed by DEI professionals as well as learnings from a series of targeted training and workshops. The plan contains new features such as improved data collection, analysis and reporting protocols, and efforts that build and maintain inclusivity as a core value of our school. This plan will continue to evolve and we welcome the input and guidance of our new DEI Director to ensure our plan is updated and adapts to the needs of our school and community.
4 Adding diversity, equity, and inclusion practices to the teacher and faculty chair evaluations.   Our DEI faculty evaluation process is underway and on track to be completed by mid-June 2021. The new assessment tool and system were developed in concert with DEI professionals and our faculty. The new assessment tool will be used to assess and support all of our faculty on an ongoing basis.
5 The hiring of a private independent consultant who can serve to facilitate accountability circles and address the ongoing need for education and capacity building of staff and others in the community (person must be certified and trained on issues of race and social justice). Following a comprehensive search, Julian McNeil was hired as our DEI Consultant in September 2020. Mr. McNeil will continue to be engaged by the school until the appointment of the DEI Director for the 2021-2022 school year.
6 Hire a Diversity and Inclusion Director to provide ongoing support, management, and training for faculty, staff, parents, and the community. We have received numerous high-quality applications for our inaugural DEI Director. We are presently interviewing several individuals who have made it to stage two of a three-stage hiring process. Our goal is to identify finalists by early-to-mid-June with the intent of making offers by mid-to-late June 2021.  The job posting can be found on the employment page of our website.
7 Create transparent standards for how harmful incidents will be addressed. A Racism, Discrimination, and Bias Incident Protocol was approved and implemented in September 2020 and continues to be refined based on feedback from our community.
8 Teachers/FDG/Administrators should have evaluations reviewed and approved by the board. Organizational changes made by our Board in February 2021 established a Head of School model which streamlines oversight and review of evaluation processes. The Head of School will meet regularly with the Board’s Executive Committee to provide updates regarding school operations, including Human Resources matters as well as to seek the Committee’s input and guidance.
9 A change of the board structure so the board supervises and provides oversight and accountability to the faculty chair. Changes to our organizational infrastructure were approved by the Board of Trustees at its February 2021 meeting. The changes establish a Head of School that reports to the Board. The Head of School is responsible for the oversight and accountability of the Faculty Chair.
10 A conflict of interest policy that requires all board and staff to state in writing any loyalty binds or dual relationships which will result in subsequent recusal from having the power to make decisions in matters of conflicting interest. A Conflict of Interest Policy was approved and implemented in July 2020.

We will continue to keep you updated and invite you to join us in this work. Let us heal our community, and work to undo racism together. Email board@phillywaldorf.com to find out about opportunities to participate.  

The recommendation table was updated on May 28th, 2021, by Theresa Kaskey, President, WSP Board of Trustees; Anthony deGuzman, Head of School; and Kelly Beekman, Faculty Chair.

Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

The Waldorf School of Philadelphia actively encourages and supports diversity, equity and inclusion in our community. We strive to deepen our understandings of each other and the world as they relate to and are reflected through heritage and areas of social justice. We welcome people from (but not limited to) all races, gender, identities, sexual orientations, socioeconomic statuses, ages, and religions. Our community works to embrace and deepen our own understanding of both our strengths, which support our goals for the inclusion of all, as well as the challenges hindering our progress towards these goals.

In addition to our stated commitment to diversity, we have also adopted the position statements of the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA) and adhere to the Association of Delaware Valley Independent Schools (ADVIS) Non-Discriminatory Policy as to Students.

Anti-Racism Resources for Parents

Many parents are looking for resources for talking about racial justice at this tragic time in our country. Here are some resources that we will keep updating or visit our page Anti-Racism Resources for Parents.

“Beyond the Golden Rule: A Parent’s Guide to Preventing and Responding to Racism”
“They’re not too young to talk about race!”

“Talking with Young Children About Race”

A resource for talking about race with young children

Join our Work and Become Involved

Join our Diversity and Inclusion Committee. To contact the Diversity and Inclusion Committee at diversity@phillywaldorf.com.

   

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Fund

The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion designation of the Annual Fund is an unrestricted gift to allow our school to expand and evolve diversity, equity, and inclusion programming and services. Make a gift to the Annual Fund 2020-2021 today by visiting phillywaldorf.com/give