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Regents to ask NY's schools to develop comprehensive diversity policies

Kyle S. Mackie

Schools across New York will be asked to develop comprehensive policies advancing diversity, equity and inclusion under a new initiative by the Board of Regents.

On Monday, the board launched a draft blueprint for the initiative. Among other things, it calls on the state's 700 school districts to prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion when examining their teaching, learning, student support systems and family and community engagement.

"We also believe that in this moment, we must ensure coherent opportunities for all students to actively participate in a lifetime of civic engagement and social justice activism," said Chancellor Lester Young.

Young said the board's initiative comes at a pivotal time, when the U.S. appears ready to confront its long history of racism and bigotry.

"We've seen the brutal killing of Black and brown men and women in real time, right before our eyes," he said. "We've seen the dangerous spike in violence against Asian Americans. We've seen a wave of renewed discrimination against individuals considered to be 'not quite American.'"

Regent Francis Wills wants empathy to be part of the social-emotional work that is done in schools.

"And that we help to teach how to understand the experiences of others; the experiences of the students in the classes. That is what ultimately leads to relationships and that can be a bridge away from the hate," Wills said.

Young acknowledged that some school districts have already made significant progress in their efforts to address equity and inclusion. He said other districts may want to do the work, but would like some help, while others have not made diversity, equity and inclusion a priority.

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