Monday, July 23, 2012

Response by the Founder and CEO of Explore Schools, Morty Ballen

 Below is a response by the Founder and CEO of Explore Schools, Morty Ballen. Here's an excerpt:


Diversity, while complex, is an asset that we continuously leverage to ensure our students succeed.

21 months ago, we recognized that we needed to have a way to talk openly about our differences – be they economic, sexual orientation, religious, ethnic or skin color. We recognized that if we, the adults, didn't prioritize this topic then we wouldn't model for our students our belief that there is strength in difference and diversity. A group of staff members from across our schools volunteered their time and energy and created a Diversity & Inclusion Task Force. Parent leaders and members of the D & I Task Force met to begin a dialogue to explicitly discuss, and understand, communication challenges that arose due to differences in culture. The conversation demonstrated the care and passion members of the Explore community have about the very topic of this article. Although he attended this meeting, it was disappointing and surprising that the journalist decided not to include these efforts in his article.

Issues of race and diversity permeate every aspect of American culture; any school, regardless of location, feels their reach. Because of that, the journalist could have done a similar story at any number of schools in New York City. We know this article is not the end of the discussion, nor should it be. However, we will not let it distract us from our larger mission of proving that every child is capable of learning at high levels regardless of the community into which they happen to be born. As a school, we may not be able to fix the entrenched issues of race and class in our society, but we can certainly confront the challenges they pose for our students and fulfill for them our country's promise that their education will enable them to achieve their goals and aspirations.

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