The resurgence of Black Lives Matter (BLM) this past summer had a visible impact on for-profit businesses and nonprofit organizations, including independent schools. Many now agree that taking an apolitical or a neutral stance is not an option. Historically white independent schools have made greater efforts to talk openly about race and white supremacy culture. And yet, these efforts have not always created the change that our students and school communities deserve.

Diversity Equity and Inclusion have long been core values of CATDC, and especially with equity at the center of our own Strategic Plan, we decided to survey educators at California independent schools to gather more information about how this global movement changed or cemented DEI initiatives at their schools. Responses revealed that while most schools are on similar journeys, they have reached different milestones.

Four clear trends emerged along a continuum of change. A small number of educators reported that nothing had changed. Other educators reported their schools took some action, but it felt like tokenism and their hopes for more practical action had not been realized. The majority of the survey responses indicated that schools had significantly adjusted their DEI efforts, or that their school had already had a solid approach to DEI and BLM affirmed their approach, reinforced their commitment, accelerated change, and held them to greater accountability. One response shared this about their commitment: “We now have a Board who understands how serious we are about equity and how to use this value/need as a guidepost in our Head of School search.”

How would you assess your own school’s efforts? Where are you starting to see small successes? What are you doing to create greater change?

Reflecting on and assessing your school’s DEI efforts can be powerful at any stage of the journey. Here are some resources to get you started.

  • Consider these audit goals from the The Adaway Group to spark questions and reflections. We agree that moving toward a transformational culture from a transactional one is a worthwhile goal.
  • The Equity Audit  from Beloved Community is a free, online tool that aids schools, non-profits, for-profits and agencies in assessing their institutional practices. They also offer this mini audit resource to quickly assess a response plan before implementing it.

Tools such as these can help you define terms, collect data, and make concrete plans for disrupting the status quo. Learning in community with others provides new skills, knowledge, and awareness as well as the accountability essential to a strong and sustained commitment. We have created the following learning opportunities to meet these needs.

For Leaders

From Theory to Practice

  • Equity as Excellence is an unparalleled opportunity for teams to learn research-based methods for creating inclusive learning environments and practice talking about race.

Affinity Spaces

  • In Empowering Black Women, designed to be a safe and supportive space for Black/African American women, participants will leave with the tools needed for an ongoing examination of personal boundaries, resiliency, and accountability.

  • In Study Group for White Educators, participants will engage with instructive texts about whiteness and white supremacy culture within a supportive and well-facilitated community of white educators.

  • APISA Study Group: Deconstructing the “Model Minority” Myth Using Our Lived Experience is an opportunity to connect with other APISA educators in an affinity setting that will provide a safe and generative space to self-reflect, share stories, and learn from each other’s experiences.

This work is never done. CATDC is committed to supporting schools to get closer to this worthwhile goal of creating more diverse, inclusive, equitable school communities and dismantling white supremacy culture. If you have more resources to share or want to blog on your school’s successes or learnings, please reach out!


Tracy Gallagher is the Director of Communications, Marketing, and Membership at CATDC and serves on the board of Luna Dance Institute.

Leave a Comment