In 1959, a Los Angeles physician sued a private school after it refused to admit his six year-old daughter. But the Superior Court quickly dismissed the lawsuit, concluding that Dr. A. Palmer Reed had accused the Hollywood Professional School of doing something that wasn't legally prohibited. Even if the school had denied admission to Cynthia Denice Reed because she was black, the court concluded, "the anti-discrimination statutes were never designed for the purpose of regulating what strictly private groups shall do." In Los Angeles, as in the rest of the country, private schools had every right to offer admission only to white students. They would maintain that legal right until 1976. In the year that Dr. Palmer filed his unsuccessful lawsuit, the Westland School was ten years old – and it had prohibited racial discrimination since the moment of its founding. In a December 19, 1949 meeting, making their first rules for the operation of a new school, the Westland board of trustees considered and passed Article IX of their original bylaws: "It was moved by John McTernan that there shall be no discrimination in the administration of any of the affairs of this corporation against any student, prospective student, member, prospective member, or any other person on account of race, creed, color, national origin or political belief." The measure passed, decades before the trustees had any legal obligation to pass it. From the first moments that Westland existed, the founders of the school knew what the institutional culture would be: open, diverse, pluralistic. It was a decision – and a culture – that they passed down to the generations of parents, teachers, and students who have followed. Our history is who we are.
Out of Group Four’s geography curriculum, the class started discussing the distribution of population, wealth, and food around the world. In an activity shared by Group 1 teacher, Kailea Switzer, the class was given 100 bingo pieces, 100 pennies, and 100 paper clips. The bingo pieces represented people, the pennies wealth, and the paper clips food. The children worked together, distributing items on each continent to represent their guess of how the world’s population, wealth, and food access was globally distributed. After they shared their guesses, we rearranged the pieces to accurately represent this distribution. The students were shocked to see the disproportionation of wealth and food available to countries with larger populations compared to the excess of resources for smaller ones. We discussed how the world got this way and what we felt we could do to help. Some of the ideas were to send money to people in need. However, with the guidance of Nnenna Nwachuku, the class engaged in discussions regarding the cycle of poverty and what can be done to break it. The class was very interested in access to clean water. They were upset to learn that many children their age spent their days collecting water rather than going to school. After brainstorming, they decided to raise money for a hand pump that would provide clean water to a village. As Valentine’s Day approached the class chose to celebrate the day by hosting a bake sale to raise money for the pump. As part of this service learning activity, the homework assignments that week included baking items for the sale and determining a reasonable price for their goods. On the day of sale, the children were in charge
Midway through its third year, we’re strengthening Westland’s Human Development Program by enhancing the inclusivity and welcoming nature of the community and focusing on gender diversity. We’ve developed a multi-layered approach to learning that offers students accurate information and opportunities to discuss issues pertinent to their experience, that are in sync with their cognitive, social, and emotional development. The framework includes a focus on: Bodies, Birth, Families, Friendships, Safety and Gender Development. This year, the children are talking about… • The power they have to make rules for their community that support each individual, without limits set by rigid gender roles. • The courage it takes to stand up to someone who says you can’t do something because of gender. • How we can help others when support is needed. • How to take on the role of courageous bystander in the face of hurtful teasing. • What makes a good friendship? How to resolve differences within friendships. The Westland Library has books on each topic to help start conversations at home. The photo above includes four of them. Idalee and the classroom teachers and I can all make recommendations. I welcome the opportunity to hear from you at email@example.com Ellen Sanchez Human Development Specialist
Group Two had the opportunity to visit a cookie factory as they explore the question, “How does food get to the table?” This visit provided a rich study of the different kinds of work necessary to produce and package cookies, as well as the interdependence of one job on another. Before their visit, the children investigated packaged foods in their lunches and determined how the food traveled from the farm to the grocery store as well as what happened to the food on its journey. Six and seven year olds are very proud of their knowledge and tend to be reluctant to say what they do not know, so they were full of predictions about factories. Following this process, they prepared questions for the owner of the cookie factory. After their field trip, Group Two worked in small groups to determine the most important areas of the cookie factory. They came together as one group to graph their ideas, observing which areas were noted the most. Graphing gave a visual representation to the children’s thinking and provided a springboard for more ideas, drawings and discussion. The concept of sequencing underlies all of this study. Asking “What must happen before this can happen?” provides an example of how basic mathematical concepts are given context in the realm of social studies and internalized through experience. Group Two began to observe ‘sequences’ throughout their daily lives. After much discussion and some adjustments, the children pinned their factory drawings along a clothesline where they believed the drawings belonged in the cookie factory sequence. This was the process that led to Group Two’s reconstruction of the cookie factory with large blocks, and illustrates the children’s understanding and appreciation of the