Principles of Good Practice for Equity and Justice in Episcopal Schools

Dialogue, not monologue, fosters learning. The process of education involves give and take, concession and compromise, argument and debate: all products of the rich interchange which takes place when people of differing backgrounds and varied points of view come together and honor one another. Accordingly, Episcopal schools seek to thoughtfully balance their core identity as Christian institutions with an open and genuine hospitality that welcomes many voices and perspectives.

Today’s Episcopal schools are populated by a rich variety of human beings from increasingly diverse dimensions of identity and religious, cultural, and economic backgrounds. Episcopal schools are places that affirm these differences as sources of strength that build up common life, deepen our common humanity, and enhance the intellectual, social, spiritual, and moral development all students. This mandate was succinctly expressed in Goal Four of the NAES 2012 Strategic Plan: to “articulate a core religious identity within the context of our multi-religious and inclusive Episcopal school communities by promoting values of justice, equity, service, civil discourse, and moral courage.”

Grounded in Jewish tradition and the teachings of Jesus, the early church broadened the horizons of inclusivity to embrace the whole human family, especially the poor, the marginalized, and the stranger. Episcopal schools strive to live fully into Christ’s gospel call such that “barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace.” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 823).

The principles of good practice for equity and justice in Episcopal schools reflect these core values. They are a guideline and reference point to assist Episcopal schools to be places of moral courage where each person is honored fully as a child of God and the love of Christ is present on behalf of all. To live fully into these principles will require that Episcopal schools of all sizes, constellations, and educational philosophies commit themselves to providing qualified faculty and staff, appropriate training, and adequate budgetary support.

Episcopal schools integrate ideals and concepts of equity, justice, and a just society throughout the institution.

Episcopal schools take seriously their calling to “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.” This begins with the school’s mission and vision statements and is advanced by its leadership, policies, and programs.

  • Mission and vision statements articulate the school’s commitments to the concepts of equity, justice, and a just society.
  • The head of school, governing board members, administrators, and teachers regularly articulate the school’s commitments and lead by example in word and deed.
  • Governing bodies consider issues of justice and equity in strategic planning processes and in the development of institutional policies. The governing body reviews regularly the school’s policies and programs to insure that they advance the school’s goals as a just and equitable institution.
  • Governing bodies seek out and engage new members with a variety of backgrounds and experiences, and develop specific strategies and programs to advance this goal.
  • The school seeks, attracts, and retains a faculty and staff of diverse backgrounds, and develops strategies and programs to advance this goal.
  • The school seeks, welcomes, affirms, and retains students and families of diverse backgrounds, and develops policies and programs to advance this goal.
  • The school is committed to procure, subsidize, and allocate financial assistance so that all economic levels are represented in the student body. The school monitors the full cost of attending the school and works to the best of its ability to insure equal participation in required and/or optional extracurricular activities, regardless of financial circumstances.
  • The school honors and advances the dignity of all work, regardless of role or title, and establishes fair and equitable policies related to hiring, employment, and compensation.
  • The school has a non-discrimination statement that is consistent with the practices and policies of the Episcopal Church and in full compliance with state, local, and federal laws.

Episcopal schools promote the benefits of a pluralistic school community.

Episcopal schools have long understood that multiple voices and perspectives are necessary for sound learning and wise decision making. To this end, Episcopal schools strive to be inclusive communities that promote open and reasoned dialogue that breaks down barriers and promotes human understanding.

  • The school works actively at all levels of the organization and with all constituents to strengthen inter-personal and cross-cultural understanding across racial, religious, cultural, socio-economic, and other divides.
  • The school remains abreast of and incorporates best practices and current thinking into the school’s programs and policies to advance these goals.

Episcopal schools attend to the intellectual, physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of all students and develop and monitor programs and policies to this end.

Students learn best when they are known, valued, connected, and safe. Episcopal schools create and sustain a school culture that advances the dignity and well-being of each person and promotes a genuine sense of belonging.

  • The school develops and monitors the cross-cultural competencies of students, their families, and faculty and staff and undertakes periodic assessments of school culture as it relates to students’ social and emotional well-being.
  • Adults model openness to new ideas and perspectives, respectful civil discourse, and reasoned dialogue as ways to increase interpersonal understanding and resolve conflicts.
  • The school develops, disseminates, and monitors effective policies and programs to prevent and respond to social cruelty, including harassment, hazing, and bullying.
  • The school’s disciplinary policies are thoughtfully developed and carried out so as to support the fundamental dignity of students and their families.
  • The school periodically assesses the school climate, programs, and policies to advance these goals, and takes action or makes adjustments as needed.

Episcopal schools integrate issues of justice and equity into the curriculum.

By exploring social and moral issues, students begin to evaluate critically their own beliefs and biases. They learn from the perspectives and experiences of others, grapple with complexity, and develop the skills to become contributing members of a global and pluralistic society.

  • Social, ethical, and moral issues are integrated into the curriculum in meaningful and age appropriate ways, at all grade levels.
  • The curriculum directly addresses stereotypes and biases and advances inter-personal and cross-cultural understanding across racial, religious, cultural, socio-economic, and other divides.
  • Students learn how people of faith and conviction redress injustice, today and in the past.

Episcopal schools integrate community service and service-learning fully into school life.

Episcopal schools seek to cultivate lives of meaning, purpose, and service. Therefore, sustained, meaningful, and transformational service to others is a fundamental part of an Episcopal education.

  • The school develops and articulates a clear philosophy and rationale for community service and service-learning.
  • The school works to incorporate substantive, high-quality, and age-appropriate service-learning experiences into the school’s curriculum at all levels.
  • Students engage in service activities that deepen their awareness of social issues and advance both individual and collective action for social change. Students engage in thoughtful reflection about service experiences and their impact.
  • Best practices for community service and service-learning are kept up-to-date and service is given adequate time in the school schedule.
  • The school has a process for developing, implementing, reviewing, and evaluating its service programs.
  • The school provides professional training for faculty, staff, students, and parents, particularly for those who are charged with administrating or promoting service programs.

Episcopal school chapel and worship underscore issues of justice and equity.

Consistent with the NAES Principles of Good Practice for Chapel and Worship in Episcopal Schools, chapel is a time of genuine hospitality, grounded in the school’s Episcopal heritage, which supports the spiritual growth of all. Chapel explores specifically Christian and universal moral values, celebrates our differences and our commonalities, and deepens our understanding of ourselves, one another, and God.

  • Chapel reinforces the school’s core values related to justice and equity, and strengthens community life.
  • Chapel fosters a deepened appreciation of the differences and commonalities between and within diverse religious beliefs and traditions.
  • Chapel courageously addresses issues of equity, justice, and inter-religious understanding.
  • Chapel brings attention to pressing community issues.
  • Chapel advances the school’s commitments to service-learning and community service.
  • Chapel raises consciousness about and inspires individual and collective action in service of social transformation.

Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided should not be construed as legal advice nor should it be used as a substitute for consulting with legal counsel.