Re: a footnote on diversity

Alan Klein (AlanKlein@gnn.com)
Thu, 05 Sep 1996 22:30:02

>The aim here, as in every aspect of our completely open --
>and hence in principle non-discriminatory -- enrollment policy was not to
>exclude anybody, or make anybody feel uncomfortable or unwelcome, which is
>fundamentally different from having the goal of actively seeking to include
>everybody, or every type of person.

Hi, Dan!

Although many have railed against it, I don't think anyone has suggested
"actively seeking to include everybody, or every type of person" in our
schools. The whole thrust of my, and others', comments was to challenge us
all on whether our "open enrollment" policies do actually avoid making
"anybody feel uncomfortable or unwelcome". While they go quite far in that
direction, I contend that we may be blinding ourselves to ways in which those
with less power in human systems feel excluded and uncomfortable by those
with more power, even when those with more power are not actively practicing
oppressive measures against them.

I recall consulting with a corporation and sitting in the board room with the
top management. These 12 white guys all looked at each other and said, in
one way or another, "Diversity? We don't have any problem with diversity
here." What they meant was that they were not aware of any overt tensions or
hostilities among their employees. What they were blind to was the quite
real problem they had in attracting women and people of color who typically
took one look at the makeup of senior management and concluded, "There's no
place here for me."

While I don't favor in any way creating artificial tests, rules, laws, or
other devices to legislate a diverse population in our schools, I do believe
that diversity of all kinds is a strength and that we may be missing out on
something by not being more active in pursuit of it.

Alan Klein ... AlanKlein@gnn.com
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