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Living with Diversity

January message from Executive Director Debbie Green.
 
 
In November, I joined a few teachers in attending an early childhood education conference in Washington, DC. The first day of the conference, we visited a highly regarded preschool program and its beautiful classrooms, we heard of innovative thinking about children’s development and curriculum design, and engaged in creative activities.
 
The whole day was a terrific learning experience.
 
However, what struck us the most about this program located in a very urban setting, was the lack of apparent diversity. While we know that diversity is represented in many ways, it was clear in looking at photos of the families enrolled, meeting the teaching staff, and learning that the fee structure did not include any ways for low-income families to have access to the program, there was very little diversity represented.
 
For each of us coming from PIC, this struck a cord that was difficult to get past. We have all come to believe in the power, and the learning that happens, in being part of a diverse environment. But just because we believe that diversity is right, it doesn’t mean that it is easy!
 

Living with diversity each day can be very, very challenging.

It is not easy to hear the perspectives of others, when those perspectives may be very different from your own. It is not easy to assure that hiring, promotion and enrollment policies ensure both equity and equality to all. It is not easy to address issues around curriculum, when an important goal is to confront and eliminate barriers of prejudice, misinformation, and bias. It is not easy to reflect upon and address issues of power and privilege. 
 
But, we are up for that challenge! A group of PIC staff and administrators have joined together to form a Diversity and Equity Committee to begin to explore the challenges that face our own diverse community, and how these challenges may be addressed. 
 
We host a monthly professional learning community called Race Matters and Cultural Competency, where interested early childhood educators come together to engage in conversation and address issues around race. 
 
Each January, we bring families together around literature at our annual Children's Book Festival. The afternoon, sponsored by our Diversity Committee, includes read-aloud stories where diversity of some kind is important to the narrative.
 
This free and open-to-the-public event will be held at PIC on January 27, and also includes music, crafts, and a book swap, where all children attending can leave with books we have collected.  
 
Perhaps one day addressing issues around diversity will be far less complex. For now, we accept the challenges knowing that the diversity at PIC is both our strength and an opportunity for continued learning and growth. Ultimately, we believe that these opportunities lead to more respect for each other and of all people. 
 
Wishing you all a very happy, healthy and peaceful New Year, and as always, I thank you for entrusting your children in our care.