Schools' D.E.I. "Deep Dives" Serves up Experiential Exercises


Saturday morning, the Franklin Public School held Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Deep Dives, a presentation to which parents and the public were invited. The event was held at the Franklin Public Library and was open to parents and the general public and attracted a few dozen participants, many of whom were department employees, members of the school committee, or DEI professionals from nearby towns such as Walpole and Foxboro, whose roles and presence were not explained.

The session was led by Superintendent Lucas Giguere and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Director Heidi Harris and was advertised as focusing `on various areas of improvement related to the Culture and Climate portion of our Equity Audit.’

Based mostly on a walkthrough of the presentation slides from the October 25th, 2022 School Committee D.E.I. Presentation, participants had been told that after the presentation they would ‘be able to engage in a structured, authentic and informative conversation with the District Administration.’

What actually transpired was somewhat different. No part of the program or presentation was really up for debate or even question; instead participants were given exercises such as finding someone in the room they didn’t know and telling them about a time when they felt they didn’t belong....

The final “exercise” was intended to elicit more specific ideas for honing aspects of the DEI program as developed by the Schools and described on two of the specific slides in the presentation.

One individual interrupted Giguere, as this exercise was being introduced, and asked whether the data on which the program was based could be shared and also asked how many respondents were surveyed to set the priorities. “I am a problem solver and have been for 30 years but I need to see the data,” he said. Giguere started to say the information was available but he couldn’t remember the exact number of respondents.

At that point two parent chimed in with different low numbers 12, and about 100 respectively, regarding how many people had been surveyed. Giguere said that sounded about right, one of the parents, apparently reading from the school web site on her device, clarified and said the initial “survey” had been the members of the school committee and a few others – about a dozen people in total. And then a few dozen others – parents and students -- were later also surveyed. [It was unclear whether this second group was self-selected or in any sense random.]

The revelation about the tiny size of the input group provoked a small flurry of comments about  whether it was valid to build a program on such a small sample.

Giguere, for his part, acknowledge that more inputs should be gathered but stressed that the focus of the day’s events was simply to help hone and improve the focus of the D.E.I. program that the schools have already embarked on.

The whole session ran just over 90 minutes and at the end Giguere played a 2-minute video from Denmark (actually 3 minutes) designed to illustrate D.E.I. goals and to inspire participants.

Giguere and Harris thanked attendees for their input and participation.

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