This year marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. Though our country has made progress since 1968, many of the challenges that faced the civil rights movement still remain: lack of affordable housing and good job opportunities; poverty; prejudice and xenophobia.
We are each faced with decisions as to how to respond to these concerns. In A Letter From A Birmingham Jail, Dr. King stated that: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Dr. King’s words remind us that as citizens we have a responsibility to help our communities, to right the wrongs we see in the world.
What does this mean at Blue Oak School? Our students and educators benefit from being part of a democratic community where children and adults alike are exposed to new perspectives and points of view. A vibrant exchange of thoughts, ideas, and feelings generated in a safe and welcoming environment creates valuable learning opportunities and deep, lasting connections. In this way we build a shared community of learners and leaders, promoting the attitudes, values, responsibilities, and skills needed to live in freedom. “Education in a democracy,” said Alexis de Tocqueville, “is an apprenticeship in liberty.”
We believe that there is no true education without diversity, equity, and inclusion, any more than there is education without arithmetic or reading. The best education occurs in a school community comprised of diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, abilities, cultures, races, religions, sexual orientations, gender identities, and family structures. We strive to create an inclusive environment that attracts and supports families from many backgrounds, including those traditionally underrepresented in independent schools.
Our commitment to these tenets is rooted in our mission and reflected in our practice.
A Blue Oak parent recently shared her son’s thoughts about what it feels like to be a student of color at school: “You know what is the best part about Blue Oak mama… it’s that they don’t exclude. The kids don’t exclude each other at playtime and the school doesn’t exclude any types of people. There are so many kids and teachers with dark skin, like me! And I like that because I feel included. Also, mama, the teachers are not bossy bosses, they don’t just say ‘no’ to the kids, they listen to their ideas and compromise. That’s the best kind of boss– a boss who compromises.” Wise words from a student – ideals to live up to.
With democracy and our common humanity as cornerstones, we graduate students with a deep understanding and appreciation for diversity in all respects. As well, our students emerge as avid “problem finders” and “solution generators” who care deeply about issues of sustainability, justice, and truth. From feeding the homeless, to raising pennies for patients, to organizing a fundraiser for fire victims, our students care about each other and the world around them.
Fifty years after the tumultuous events of 1968, and in a present time of political and social turmoil, bringing diversity, equity, and inclusion to life matters more than ever.
What we do matters.