Community Roots Charter School

About Us » Diversity

Diversity

Diversity and Inclusion

 

Want to see our approach to diversity and our community programming in action? Follow us on Instagram

 

For more information about our approach to diversity and what it looks like in practice, please contact our Director of Community Development, Sahba Rohani.

 

Community Roots is Committed to Diversity and Inclusion

Since its founding, Community Roots Charter School (CRCS) has been committed to creating a learning environment which is diverse and inclusive.  By offering students the opportunity to learn and grow side by side with peers from varied backgrounds and abilities, we believe that graduates will leave our school with a sense of community which transcends the traditional borders of race, culture and socioeconomic status, as well as an ability to challenge the misconceptions around gender and sexuality.  Using research and an understanding of our own community, we have developed a comprehensive approach to teaching students how people’s experiences and interactions are shaped by their identity.  Through a rich social studies focus and a social-emotional curriculum, we aim to equip all of our students with the skills and perspectives necessary to become fully engaged members of their communities.  

 

Community Roots is located in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.  As a means of safeguarding the socio-economic diversity​ of the school in a neighborhood with constantly shifting demographics and intense demand for quality elementary education, the school’s admissions lottery was weighted to ensure that 40% of incoming Kindergartners are from the Ingersoll Houses, Walt Whitman Houses, and Farragut Houses, public housing directly surrounding the school building.

 

Community Roots Aligns with an Anti-Bias Approach

Community Roots aligns closely to an anti-bias approach, which we believe is critical to the creation and sustainability of an environment where a diverse student population can thrive.  This quote from the Anti-Defamation League defines this approach:  “Anti-bias education incorporates the philosophy of multicultural education while expanding to include other forms of bias, stereotypes and misinformation. Anti-bias education not only addresses race and ethnicity but also includes gender, language, religion, sexual orientation, physical and mental abilities and economic class. Anti-bias education takes an active, problem solving approach that is integrated into all aspects of an existing curriculum and a school’s environment. An anti-bias curriculum promotes an understanding of social problems and provides students with strategies for improving social conditions.”

 

By prioritizing issues of identity, discrimination and social justice in our curriculum and our professional development, the school strives to be a brave-space (a space that supports people to take risks) for differences of all kinds, where all staff, students, and families feel supported, empowered and fully engaged.

 

Through our commitment to an anti-bias curriculum, we strive to create a learning environment where:

  • History is seen as being made up of multiple perspectives
  • Students build connections between the historical content of the curriculum and their everyday lives
  • Topics are openly addressed around (but not limited to) race, gender, sexuality, class, and 
    ​physical and mental ​
    ability
  • Students are supported in exploring their multi-dimensional and developing identities
  • There is a shared language around inclusion and diversity
  • Teachers and families have a clear understanding of social justice concepts that will be introduced and studied in each grade
  • Different perspectives are shared and welcome
 

Professional Development to Support Our Approach

Professional development is another crucial element in creating a strong infrastructure for diversity and inclusion. 

 

The Anti-Bias Education Collective
 
In 2012, the Anti-Bias Education Collective (ABC) was formed to help our faculty create classroom communities that honor the different identities represented in our school and build a developmentally appropriate anti-bias curriculum that is centered upon justice. In doing this meaningful work, it has been essential for staff members to address and reflect upon their own biases as well as the biases they feel towards others, both inside and outside the classroom. Made up of a team of staff members from within our school community, the ABC’s initial focus was to support the work of creating a social justice scope and sequence that is thoughtfully integrated into our existing social studies units. These efforts were reinforced through the deeper integration of critical literacy skills, the incorporation of multiple perspectives, and by creating opportunities for students to engage in social action. The ABC continues to meet regularly to design and facilitate staff trainings on topics related to equity and, each summer, it puts together a reading list that allows all members of the community to reflect upon issues connected to identity, racism, power, privilege, and inclusion. 
 
The Inclusive Practices Group
 
Our school believes the opportunity to learn from people who live, think and learn differently deepens our understanding of and connection to the community. We aim to provide all students with an educational environment where learner variability is acknowledged, valued and supported. This variability is seen as an inherent strength of our community and is used to inform classroom practices and lesson design. The Inclusive Practices Group (IPG), established in 2015, upholds these beliefs and goals by providing professional development around establishing inclusive learning environments in classrooms. The IPG, which is comprised of faculty members from within our school community, meets regularly to discuss educational theories that address learner variability as well as current research on inclusive education. The group facilitates workshops for staff to explore ways to incorporate these ideas into their planning and instruction. IPG members are committed to thinking creatively about how to support students' growth and learning; and ensuring staff have the tools and understanding necessary for students to access social, emotional and academically rigorous and engaging curriculum and community.

 

Approaching Our Work with Love

Along with our core values, we see social justice as a cornerstone of our educational community, where honoring one another becomes a key element of academic success.  Most importantly, we believe that all of this work is only possible and meaningful if it is approached with love:

 

The moment we choose to love we begin to move against domination, against oppression.  The moment we choose to love we begin to move towards freedom, to act in ways that liberate ourselves and others.  That action is the testimony of love as the practice of freedom. - Bell Hooks in Love as the Practice of Freedom, Outlaw Culture