Talk To Trustees
Tips for approaching conversations with trustees
The board chair and head of school work closely together to shape the agenda for each school year. This “partnership” is very influential. Most boards are large, so the important work is done in the Executive committee, which is a small group of board leaders. Therefore, board meetings are highly curated events that serve as status updates to the rest of the trustees. Board members are usually uninformed about the incessant focus on DEI and identity and are looking to distance themselves from anything they consider “uncomfortable and unpopular." The key is to present verifiable evidence of “questionable teachings” and “compelled thinking and speech” in school so the trustee cannot deny it or abdicate their duty to address it.
As background, Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is Critical Race Theory (CRT). This ideology — a theory that says we should view everything through the lens of race and gender— teaches one negative and divisive worldview. There is a difference between teaching about CRT and implementing CRT into curriculum/teaching. Implementing CRT takes away students’ sense of agency and promotes victimhood. This “work” has spawned a multibillion-dollar grievance industry, with incentives that are not aligned with solving any real "problems.” Hammers looking for nails.
NAIS has prioritized this political social justice agenda and uses the accreditation process to distribute the content to all the schools.
Board members may push back with typical uninformed responses like, “we need to prepare our students for a world that doesn’t look like our school.” Anyone approaching a board member needs to have answers to these common objections. And they need to be prepared to ask pointed questions like “do you want your kids to be told they are irredeemably racist?” If a board member pushes back and says, “DEI does not do that," you must be prepared to prove that it does by providing examples.
Parents approaching a board member need to hold trustees accountable by specifically saying something like, “J, we’ve provided you proof that divisive ideology exists in our school. We do not want this divisive ideology taught to our kids. In your capacity as a board member, you represent us, the parents, the paying customers. After this meeting, we plan to tell other parents that we have had this conversation with you and we will all hold you personally responsible for distancing the school from the highly politicized NAIS agenda. Let us know how we can help you in this fight.”
Questions to ask at Board Meetings
As you think about the upcoming board meeting, you may want to assess if the current board is derelict in its duties. Have trustees done the work, asked the tough questions, and do they understand the politicized NAIS agenda that has permeated the school? Does the board have a robust performance review process for the head of school? Does the performance review assess how the head makes decisions, including attracting and retaining their administrative team?
Some Questions To Ask
Is this board operating in the best interests of the school and its students? Or has the school become completely dependent on NAIS, which is pushing a highly political agenda focused on equity and justice?
What is the problem on campus today that requires this focus on DEI?
Is the school prioritizing “moral etiquette” at the expense of moral courage?
Is this board asking the right questions? Some of them might be difficult and require courage. (Does racism exist on campus? If so, that is inexcusable, and any responsible person should not be a part of this community.)
Practical Suggestions For Your School
Ask the Board to approve a guiding principle statement as an addendum to their Mission statement or DEI policy that resembles something like:
"Independent School XXX does not support dehumanizing individuals, segregation, fascism, Marxism, and the following ideas associated with critical race theory: race essentialism, identity-based intersectionality, and assertions that any race, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, or the United States is inherently or irredeemably discriminatory, racist, sexist, or oppressive."
Eliminate DEI offices
Cancel the school's NAIS membership
Adopt the Chicago Statement at your school