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UA Unison Statement on Equity in 2020

NOVEMBER 2, 2020

Dearest Unison Community, 

The year 2020 could be viewed as one of enhanced vision for the Urban Assembly Unison School. There are a plethora of exciting initiatives and opportunities for us to share that would add value to the students that we serve. However, highlighting them now does a grave disservice to the students that we serve due to the grotesque and painful circumstances we continue to face in our country.

Currently, it is more appropriate to address the irrefutable fact that systemic racism and oppression is one of the only things that has been, and continues to be, enhanced in our society. This greatly impacts our students, staff, and the community that we serve. 

From subtle microaggressions that our students, staff, and families face daily, to the persistent and pervasive transgressions (one example is the killing of unarmed Black men and women) that occur too frequently, we want you to know that the Urban Assembly Unison School strongly stands against these injustices. We vehemently reject anyone or anything that aims to push us further back in history. The Unison School is committed to the work of being an actively Anti-Racist institution. We stand against white supremacy in all its forms of intolerance and hate - racism and the specific violence associated with anti-Black racism, antisemitism, homophobia, sexism, and other forms of bigotry.  We are dedicated to creating and supporting anti-racist policies and we stand against the racist policies and procedures that produce and normalize racial inequities. 

Here are a few initiatives that we have begun and others that you can expect from us moving forward as we continue to strive for equity and towards being an anti- racist school:

  • Open communication- The Urban Assembly Unison School prides ourselves on openness and transparency in all of our administrative and community dealings. We believe this is integral to fostering a safe environment where all people feel included and heard.

  • Public Denouncement of Racist Acts- The Unison School is cognizant of how damaging it can be to remain silent on sensitive issues. For this reason, we will continue to be immediate and expedient in our approach to denouncing events that call equity, inclusion, or access into question.

  • Professional Development- We will continue to hold professional development for staff centered around race and equity in order to increase the awareness, knowledge, and skills necessary to improve relations with those whom we serve.

  • Family and Community workshops- In conjunction with the NYC Department of Education’s Office of Equity and Access, we will host a series of family and community workshops called “Becoming an Anti-Racist School.” The purpose of these workshops is to educate the community about the harms of implicit bias, learn about the history of racism in America, and see how racism continues to play out in society today.

  • Practice of Culturally Responsive Education-  Unison teachers have begun to reimagine how teaching is typically done. Unison teachers are using and creating a curriculum that reflects our students and their identities, focusing on student discussion and using mastery-based feedback.

  • Mastery-based Education - Research shows that teacher bias impacts grading.  We are moving towards a more equitable approach to education - one based on student mastery of learning course requirements versus completion of assignments and compliance with directions.  We are fostering student self-determination over passivity and compliance.  We are fostering student critical thinking over the completion of various worksheets.  We are fostering students knowing what they are learning and why and being able to take action as learners who know their own strengths and needs.

  • Updated Student Policies and Procedures- Unison is committed to using Restorative Practices within our school community and approaching discipline in a Restorative way. Our student policies, procedures, and discipline responses have all been updated to reflect our commitment to being a Restorative school. With the help of Unison staff, families, and community members we will continue to review and revisit our policies and procedures to ensure that they do not perpetuate racial inequities for our students of color.

We trust that this letter is not enough to solve the persistent and pervasive problems associated with systemic oppression. However, we vow to be on the front lines and right side of this critical time in history. We implore you to continue to be bold and stand up whenever you encounter injustice. 

If you would like to explore some readings, podcasts, and videos that can support you in becoming an anti-racist, beginning with studying how our implicit biases connect to racism, check out our Family & Community Race & Equity Syllabus: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1wTYlfQMqirXeBUj2RRX-bvZ-gEy1BVrmRriIwUo3aQ0/edit?usp=sharing.

Thank you for being a part of our mission and our vision and for standing alongside us in this work (to read our Vision and Mission, follow this link - https://docs.google.com/document/d/1NFz9wHmHz95iEkGi6oQK3iUesz5tOsgT3eZrEk_O8FI/edit?usp=sharing).


In Unity,

The Urban Assembly Unison School Equity Team