June 25, 2020 – Over the past several weeks America has experienced an awakening. Black Lives Matter is the civil rights movement of our time. The unjust and violent murders of Black Americans have made anti-blackness more visible than ever before. On the one hand, adding a multitude of voices to the phrase “Black Lives Matter” means that hope exists for racial healing; but, on the other hand, it is reprehensible that there was even a question of whether Black lives mattered.
While we work actively each day toward advancing the mission of KIPP NYC to build a better tomorrow, we are now even more committed to the fight on behalf of the students, families, and communities our schools serve. We have often defined a better tomorrow as a longer-term increase in life options for KIPPsters. In the measure of today’s standards, we recognize that building a better tomorrow truly only happens if we advocate more urgently…in short, what can we do today?
Ultimately, we will be judged by the actions we take and not the emails we write. As we move into the summer, we want to share with you some actions that we’re taking both internally within KIPP NYC and externally with the broader community. We will engage in additional shared discussion and planning as we begin FY2020-21.
Internal change means examining our own internal practices. For example:
- We have added Candace Rogers to the KIPP NYC regional leadership team. Her focus is specifically on our Diversity & Equity strategy. She has proven success in working to create anti-racist schools and organizations.
- We are examining deeper issues of power & privilege and decision-making in KIPP NYC. In an effort to ensure the voices of our staff, students, and families are heard, we are creating student & family councils that provide voice into the future creation of our better tomorrow regarding KIPP NYC policies & practices.
- We will enact academic and curricular changes to ensure that the history and contributions of BIPOC are represented in our K-12 curriculum – particularly in History & ELA.
- We commit to ongoing PD and development for all staff around race, equity, and anti-blackness.
- We will ensure that our leadership pipeline practices support and develop leaders of color.
- We will hold ourselves accountable to becoming an anti-racist organization through the transparent sharing of disaggregated data that demonstrates our progress on items such as leadership pipeline development and student discipline practices.
- We commit to increasing time in our schedules, resources, staffing, and professional development opportunities focusing on how we can provide more opportunities for students to demonstrate and help them build on their existing social-emotional strengths.
External change means using our influence as one of the largest and most well-regarded school systems in the country to push on institutional racism in important areas:
- We commit to using community vendors, Black and Brown owned businesses and drawing from the community for employment when building and maintaining schools in our community.
- We commit to using our voice to ensure that the metrics that colleges, funders and government entities use to measure student success are examined and expanded to support a more holistic approach.
The impact of some of these initiatives will feel closer to you than others. In the past, our commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion [DEI] has mostly lived through our academic commitments to our students’ futures. However, today’s climate requires more than academic commitments; as such, KIPP NYC is making a more explicit effort to dismantle white supremacy in our organization by addressing the internal structures and systems that have not always consciously centered on the experiences and cultural capital of our students and families. We have taken some steps but the road ahead of us is long. We will be joined in this work by KIPP regions around the country and held accountable by both our local NYC and the national KIPP organization.
When we are back together in August, we will revisit these commitments, discuss strategy and solicit your feedback.
KIPP NYC’s mission states: Together with families and communities, we create joyful, academically excellent schools that prepare students with the skills and confidence to pursue the paths they choose—college, career, and beyond—so they can lead fulfilling lives and build a more just world.
Building a more just world starts with us in our own house at KIPP NYC. And we are compelled to do it together.
KIPP NYC Leadership Team
Alicia Johnson, President
Jim Manly, Superintendent
Kate Baughman, KIPP All Middle School
Carlos Capellan, KIPP NYC College Prep High School
Frank Corcoran, KIPP Academy Middle School
Glenn Davis, KIPP Infinity Middle School
Sarah Fisher, KIPP Freedom Elementary School
Diamond Graham, KIPP Elements Primary School
Chrystal Griffin, KIPP STAR Middle School
Tyritia Groves, KIPP Academy Elementary
Maylien Herm, KIPP Infinity Elementary School
Tessa Kratz, KIPP Through College and Career
Antoine Lewis, KIPP AMP
Rebecca McMurdie, KIPP Washington Heights Elementary School
Lariely Sanchez, KIPP Freedom Middle School
Danny Swersky, KIPP Washington Heights Middle School
Brandi Vardiman, KIPP STAR Harlem Elementary School
Aisha Christian, Legal
Natalie Webb Byrne, School Leader Support
Jane Martínez Dowling, External Affairs
Diane Flynn, Real Estate
Efrain Guerrero, Operations
Allison Willis Holley, School Leader Support
Jeff Imwold, Student Support Services
Ahkilah Johnson, Real Estate
Leslie Kim, Teaching & Learning Support
Tessa Kratz, KIPP NYC: KIPP Through College and Career
Ed Laux, Facilities & Technology
Kerry Mullins, Human Resources
Candace Rogers, Equity & Inclusion
Roseann Sheehan, Data
Brian Zied, Finance