School System Gets Grant To Tackle Diversity, Bias

The New Haven Independent reports (July 9, 2020) that the New Haven public school system will launch two new programs aimed at increasing the number of teachers of color and also to promote awareness of racial bias among school administrators.

Grants from the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund will support the initiatives.

The grants come at a time where 72.5 percent of New Haven’s teachers identify as white, compared to 12.9 percent of students who identify as white.

David Addams, executive director of the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund, explained the reason for the programs this way:

“You have a school system that is burdened with centuries of explicit and implicit racism which has yet to ever fully grasp how to educate children of color, how to represent the history and contributions of people of color in its curriculum,” he said. “There needed to be some really intentional work to address both of these issues.”

The programs are the culmination of more than a year of work by the District Equity Leadership Team (DELT), formed in the 2017-2018 school year to help districts become more conscious about promoting equity, with funding from the State Education Resource Center and the Graustein Memorial Fund. DELT applied for the two grants from the fund more than a year ago.

“As a community, New Haven is ready for these constructive conversations about change,” said the school system’s leader for the DELT, Carolyn Ross-Lee, who co- authored the grant application. “Obviously it is hard work. It’s easy to say and sometimes hard to do. But we know right now that we are poised and ready to engage in the work.” Ross-Lee also serves as the school system’s Title IX coordinator and climate coordinator.

The first grant is for minority talent development and recruitment. It provides $100,000 for the public school system to establish a teacher certification program that will support predominantly Latinx and African-American paraprofessionals in becoming certified teachers.

Some money will also go supporting new teachers by covering some of their rent and providing homeownership training and financial literacy training for them.