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Diversity and Leadership

As you may know, this week the New York Post published another disturbing article about our school and Anshu Wahi’s leadership.  The Bank Street College of Education and its School for Children stand firmly behind the courageous leadership that Anshu demonstrated throughout her four years as Director of Diversity and Community.  During her time at the school, Anshu worked collaboratively with teachers, staff, administrators, parents, and colleagues in the broader educational community to provide children and adults alike with meaningful opportunities to explore complex issues of race, equity, power, and privilege.   As Bank Street’s founder, Lucy Sprague Mitchell, proclaimed a hundred years ago, “We seek in education the opportunity to build a better society,” and this work and Anshu’s leadership have been essential to this cause.

Bank Street refutes the inaccurate reporting in both recent Post articles regarding its Racial Justice and Advocacy (RJA) program and Anshu’s leadership.  RJA, like every curricular initiative at Bank Street, is an adaptive and dynamic program, developed over many years through teacher collaboration, analysis of the student experience, and ongoing reflection and refinement.  Recent modifications to the RJA curriculum were implemented in response to recommendations of a team of expert diversity practitioners who were hired as consultants by the school to provide outside perspective during the 2012-2013 academic year.  The goals of the program for all children are to:

1.    Develop authentic identities based on race, culture, and family history
2.    Acquire language and a confident voice to talk about race and racism
3.    Be aware that people are mistreated around them in intentional and unintentional ways
4.    Learn to recognize and actively resist prejudice, discrimination, and internalized and institutional racism at Bank Street and in the larger society
5.    Understand the racial history and the current state of affairs
6.    Emerge with a positive self-identity of their individual racial and cultural identities

In keeping with its mission, Bank Street remains steadfast in its commitment to these objectives and welcomes constructive dialogue with all members of the community seeking to ensure that our children experience the curriculum in positive ways. Through thoughtful consideration of multiple perspectives, we believe that our community will ultimately be stronger and better.

Lastly, despite the Post’s insinuations to the contrary, there is categorically no correlation between the recent press coverage of RJA and Anshu Wahi’s decision to leave Bank Street.  In early February, Anshu informed the school of her decision to relocate out of state at the end of the 2015-2016 school year, and her successor was named in a message to the community on April 13.  Bank Street is proud of and grateful to Anshu for her four years of dedicated service to the school, the children, the families, her colleagues, and the community.

Jed Lippard, Dean of Children’s Programs