Lancers for Equity and Justice
July 7, 2021
Dear Parker Community,
One of the many aspects about Parker that brings me a tremendous sense of pride is the deep commitment we hold to our mission and core values. In a time of ever-increasing disinformation and confusion, some things remain crystal clear at Parker; namely, we know who we are and what we believe in, and we stand firm in our commitment to our values, especially our allegiance to civil discourse and good citizenship, and or our enduring belief in diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB). In every case, these values are lived by every member of the Parker family. Inclusion is not what we do, but it is how we do what we do every day and in every way.
Yet, this commitment to living our values does not come without the considerable dedication of all as well as the extraordinary efforts of a few. From the good governance of our Board of Trustees, the clear leadership of the entire administrative team, the inspiration provided by our DEIB team, the dedication of our faculty and staff, and the generous philanthropic support of Jeff ’75 and Karen Silberman—truly, we are all in this work together.
Last summer, with the launch of Lancers for Equity and Justice Plan 1.0 we set our course to advance the critical work of DEIB. Today, I invite you to read our Lancers for Equity and Justice Plan 2.0 and Impact Report in which we capture the progress and the outcomes of our work to date. This fall, we will host opportunities for community members to listen, learn, and engage with the Plan and our supporting educational programs at the Lower, Middle, and Upper Schools. And while we have grown and evolved over the course of the past year, much work lies ahead in our commitment to being a community of equity and justice.
Dear Parker Community,
On July 7, 2020, we shared two truths: Black Lives Matter; and at Parker, our organization, classes, and behaviors have not always reflected that essential truth. We pledge to do all in our power to help end systemic racial injustice. We are dedicating ourselves to revising our curriculum and program, devoting financial resources, engaging with philanthropic investors, and partnering with organizational leaders to seek and achieve the change we greatly desire for our students and our world.
The voices of our alumni and parents of alumni, along with their advocacy for change at Parker were critical in our swift movement. One alumna wrote, “I know that if any community can come together to make change, Parker can. You trained us to work hard despite all odds and that success is a marathon, not a sprint, so I ask that you remember these lessons yourself as we begin this process.”
They have asked us to “walk the walk;” we know actions speak louder than words. Therefore, we invite you to read the first version of the Action Plan. It is inspired by what we learned from the experiences of members of our community and created by a group of administrators, trustees, and faculty and staff including our Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Christen Tedrow Harrison, and our Grade 11 Dean, Dr. Rai Wilson.
Over the past decade, Parker has made strides in advancing this critical work including the establishment of a Diversity Committee of the Board of Trustees, undergoing a community-wide assessment of inclusivity and multiculturalism, and addressing the deficiencies and biases embedded in the JK to Grade 12 curriculum. Nevertheless, we know we have much more to do and pledge to do it with increased urgency, gravity, and earnestness.
We walk boldly and humbly toward a racially just future where each one of us feels like we belong in the Parker community.
Head of School
Susan E. Lester
July 7, 2020 Letter
July 7, 2020
Dear Parker Community,
There are two truths that we need to make unequivocally clear. First, Black Lives Matter. Second, over the years at Parker, we have not always lived up to that truth. In fact, on many occasions over the years, we have fallen short, and we offer our sincere apologies for any actions and inactions that have impacted the experiences of our Black families, students, and faculty, as well as all Indigenous and peoples of color, in painful ways. At Parker, what we permit, we promote. And we can no longer permit racism and inequity of any kind.
We also acknowledge that words like this will ring hollow absent an unflinching commitment to bold and courageous actions taken by the School that will lead to tangible and lasting change.
Parker is committed to taking the necessary actions, recognizing that we must first be willing to ask challenging questions and answer them with brutal honesty. Only when we do this can we identify and ultimately rectify the practices, systems, and policies that have perpetuated institutional racism. And while this work will require a significant investment on the part of us all, it is a commitment that is long overdue, and we cannot afford to wait any longer.
Colonel Francis Parker reminds us that “the work of the school will be determined by the needs of society.” There is no greater need in our society today than to work together to end institutional racism and racial injustice. Our work requires a deep commitment from all of us. This is our work, and this is the time to do what we must to be on the right side of justice.
On Sunday, July 26, we will publish to the full Parker community the Lancers for Equity and Justice Action Plan, which will detail the action steps we will be immediately implementing. Our work is already well underway as we have heard from and are collaborating with faculty, alumni, parents, and trustees in clearly defining these action steps and our accountability measures.
As President Barack Obama stated recently, “If, going forward, we can channel our justifiable anger into peaceful, sustained, and effective action, then this moment can be a real turning point in our nation’s long journey to live up to our highest ideals. Let’s get to work.”
Thank you for your vote of confidence in our vision, and for your enduring support of Parker as, together, we get to work.
Kevin Yaley, Head of School
Susan Lester, Board Chair