The Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE) created a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion section on its website to help support members, which include 90% of Connecticut public schools. CABE provides information, articles, equity lenses, and assessment tools for Boards of Education to examine policies and practices on issues of equity and diversity.
By providing opportunities to school board members and superintendents, we believe we can help our members to better understand issues such as implicit bias, white privilege and systemic racism. These are not easy concepts. But, without understanding them, it is very difficult to make progress on racism.
Through our equity work, we have learned 3 lessons on helping people understand equity:CABE President Donald Harris and Executive Director Robert Rader
— the work is never finished. We cannot expect closure;
— the work is very difficult and slow; and
— the work begins with every individual
The work is "never finished" and you "cannot expect closure"? Really?
DEI topics cover white privilege, allyship, systemic racism, equity, gender/LGBTQ+ and cultural diversity, though not all of these sections are populated with information just yet.
White Privilege resources feature articles like White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh. She thinks that "whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege, as males are taught not to recognize male privilege" and that "white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets" that white people can count on cashing in every single day. The materials include a "white privilege checklist" that is meant to accompany the reading. Note that Greenwich Public Schools has already come under fire for using the McIntosh article and checklist.
CABE recommends studying Dr. Ibram X. Kendi's antiracist movement to learn about "systemic racism". In his book, How to Be an Antiracist, Kendi argues that people are either racist or antiracist, and there is nothing in between. Kendi has even said that, "there's no such thing as a 'not racist' or 'race neutral' policy."
The organization also believes in "institutional racism" which it says is reflected in disparities regarding criminal justice, employment, housing, health care, political power and education. CABE cautions that institutional racism "may be unnoticed since it is not always explicit".
It also warns about "microaggressions" that allegedly result from "white privilege" and encourages using an "equity lens" to spot these offenses. For example, CABE says that the statement “I’m not racist—I have Black friends” is a microaggression because it assumes that the speaker is immune to racism because he has friends of color.
CABE recommends using the best practices cited in the Puget Sound Educational District Racial Equity Tool which includes programs, practices, policies and procedures aimed at racial equity with the goal obtaining collective buy-in to ensure everyone takes accountability for equity. The Education Northwest LEAD Tool is also recommended for engaging in self-reflection on equity, fleshing out your equity vision, and more.
They even offer a sample DEI policy for BOEs to incorporate to demonstrate their DEI commitment.
It's unclear how many members have fully embraced CABE's DEI mission. You can always check your school district's policies and inquire with your BOE to determine your district's commitment to progressive equity goals—goals rooted in the Marxist doctrine of critical race theory.
Funding for CABE's DEI section came from the Nellie Mae Foundation and the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund, an organization dedicated to elevating equity in Connecticut, disrupting systems of inequity, and transforming communities so that they are "just and inclusive".