Re: A meeting on diversity in svs-model schools

Welshon@aol.com
Sun, 1 Sep 1996 22:28:03 -0400

This is Tammy Welshon with Alpine Valley School (startup) in Colorado

I think natural diversity is a wonderful thing, but purposely setting out to
have real individuals fill quotas seems to ignore who the person is besides
the skin tone, the monitary level, religious or sexual orientation. In
short, it is rude.

Let me explain where I come from with this one. I was part of a woman's
group for the four years it lasted. I was one of two in the group who is
straight and white. The rest of the women were a combination of some other
ethnic group and sexual orientation. Only one of them was white. We had
months worth of painful and honest discussions. These women had each
expressed their rage at being the
"spokesperson" of their group. They felt like it took away their ability to
respond as an individual. That having that role, even when they did not want
it, took away their rights. They all expressed the feelings of having been
disregarded for everything but their "diversity factor." It made them shut
down. It made them feel more discriminated against. They also each talked
about their own stuggles with including diverse groups.

Furthermore, it is egocentric to think that by simply doing the right PR
that we will attract people from diverse groups. From having taught in
innner city schools for 8 years I have learned first handedly how differently
people from various cultures and subcultures view education, teachers and
learning. IT IS NOT OUR PLACE TO ASSUME WHAT WE BELIVE IS RIGHT AND IMPOSE
IT, EVEN INDIRECTLY ONTO THEM. We can exist and let them know as much, and
leave them to make their own choices.

I don't belive ANY of the schools or school groups are intentionally or
knowingly only aiming at the middle-class white group. I think we all do our
best to get our word out and hope that we are heard. We do our best to find
those who believe as we do, regardless of color, religion, sexual orientation
and so on.

Besides, who are we to decide what is best for other groups? Seems to go
against the philosophy of what we stand for.

Tammy Welshon
Alpine Valley School