Social Justice at CCS
The Children’s Community School is working to promote the values of economic and racial justice.
We recognize that there are structural inequalities in our society, which systemically disadvantage people of color, poor people, and people with other marginalized identities. We further recognize that institutions such as schools are complicit in these inequalities, and that it is therefore our responsibility to work to actively resist injustice and to create a school where everyone is welcomed, valued, and safe.
Since the fall of 2014 CCS has worked consciously to make our school a community that actively fights racism and discrimination of all kinds. We expect that this work will continue for the lifetime of the school; it is not a project that we can ever finish, but rather a developing perspective and an approach that will build and grow over time.
Social justice is not a new value for CCS. Since the school’s founding in 2009, values related to social justice have informed both classroom practice and institutional choices. As we move into the next phase of our school’s life, we are re-energizing and recommitting to values that have been a part of us from the beginning.
It is important that CCS name the value of social justice to our work. It is also important that we not overstate our accomplishments in this area. The naming of the work is only one of many steps in the work itself. CCS is not, and does not claim to be, expert in social justice classroom practice or institutional practice. We are learners in this important area.
What will success look like?
CCS is at the beginning of long-term work toward social justice. We are driven by a vision of what we want this work to look like at our school. While we know that many of these goals are a long way off, they provide us with direction and intention.
Goal: Barrier-free access for families, leading to a diverse and representative school community
- Any family in the neighborhood that wants to attend CCS has equal access to CCS.
- Our school community is racially and economically diverse, and reflects the diversity of the neighborhood and community in which we are located. People of color are well represented among families, school staff, and leadership.
- Multiple funding streams (federal, state, grants, donations, tuition) allow equitable access to all families, regardless of financial situation.
Goal: Deep community relationships
- The school has strong relationships with multiple communities in our neighborhood.
- Within our school, families feel a strong sense of connection to each other and to the staff. There is a wide variety of opportunities to build these connections throughout the year.
- Families in our school community work together on projects connected to racial and economic justice, and have a culture in which conversations around topics of social justice are comfortable and expected.
Goal: Clarity and integration of social justice into our work
- Our commitment to racial and economic justice is integrated into every aspect of our school—our foundational documents (mission, vision, values), our self-image, our classroom practice and language, our institutional policies and practices.
- Social justice is an integral part of our curriculum and classroom practice. Racial and economic justice, as well as identity development and exploration, are coordinated and integrated into our curriculum at a whole-school level. Children in our school feel comfortable naming and having conversations around issues of race, class, gender, etc., as well as social justice, at developmentally appropriate levels.
Goal: Ongoing education and professional development around social justice
- Our staff engages in ongoing professional development around racial and economic justice.
What are we bringing to this work?
- A school culture of community-building, positive relationships, and mutual support
- A school culture of ongoing personal and professional growth and change
- A school culture of active listening and critical thinking
- A school culture and practice of reflection, perspective-taking, and empathy
- A school culture and practice of respect for individuals’ ideas, perspectives, needs, and strengths
What have we already done?
- We have a curriculum that prioritizes the individual needs and identity of each child.
- We have a curriculum that prioritizes building community among children, focusing on relationships, social skills, and care-taking.
- We take the children on walks through the neighborhood and help them connect to their local community.
- We visit the home of each child entering a new classroom, to build a personal, one-on-one relationship between the school and the family.
- We invite families into our classrooms to participate in our life at school and to share their home lives and cultures with the children.
- We reach out to families for input on social justice issues.
- We foster an environment of ongoing learning, where discomfort and not-knowing are comfortable and accepted, and where we have the ability to change, to be questioned, and to be challenged.
- We open our space to use by individuals and groups in our local community.
- We actively collaborate with a wide variety of other early childhood programs in West Philadelphia, serving a wide range of families (the Early Childhood Consortium of West Philadelphia).
- We have built partnerships with colleges (especially Community College of Philadelphia) to bring a wide range of early childhood educators from across Philadelphia into our school, as student teachers, substitute teachers, observers, and volunteers.
What are we working on now?
- We are exploring and adopting tools for teachers to more deeply integrate social justice into the curriculum.
- We are expanding our strategies to invite children and families to bring their identities, cultures, and traditions into the school community.
- We are expanding our practice of asking families to share their identities and cultures with us, so that we can incorporate that information into classroom practice.
- We are building an active family committee to help guide the direction of the school.
- We are hosting regular staff conversations centering around integrating social and economic justice into our classrooms, school, and community relationships.
- We have formed a “social justice working group” to explore and promote practices to the rest of the school.
- We are overhauling our hiring process to result in a more diverse applicant pool, and hopefully a more diverse staff.
- We are editing our brochure and website, and developing the ability to better articulate and demonstrate our values.
- We are expanding our publicity and outreach efforts, to connect with a more diverse population of families.
- Along with the Early Childhood Consortium of West Philadelphia, we are organizing public events to connect more programs with more families.
- We are hosting public events, such as workshops for families.
What do we plan to do in the future?
- We will develop a comprehensive social justice curriculum and classroom approach, which will engage children in conversation and work on social justice and help them to become socially conscious citizens of our community.
- We will provide spaces for families to engage in dialogue, learning, and action around issues of race, class, and social justice. This will include helping families build tools for dialogue with each other and with their children.
- We will continue to support the work of the Social Justice Working Group.
- We will provide all staff with ongoing opportunities to connect with families and communities around issues of social justice, and to make meaningful contributions to the school’s social justice work.
- We will assess and edit our application forms and enrollment process to decrease barriers to family participation.
- We will investigate the economic impact of our school policies, so that we can make needed changes or accommodations to decrease economic barriers to family participation.
- We will integrate social justice values into our budgeting process, which will support our ability to plan for and offer things things like financial aid and professional development, as well as allocate staff hours to moving this work forward.
- We will build strong relationships with the community in our immediate neighborhood.
- We will continue to expand our community programming.
Non-Discrimination, Inclusion, and Diversity Statement
At CCS we work to create a diverse community of children, families, and staff. We believe that by developing meaningful relationships across lines of difference, we gain access to different models of learning, thinking, and being that can inform our identities and build bridges between us and others. Interactions with a wide range of people teach us that the world is an exciting place, rich with possibilities, in which we can be honored for our own unique qualities while celebrating the qualities of those who are different from us. We invite children, families, and educators to explore and engage our whole selves in a caring environment that welcomes complexity.
CCS works to create the most diverse learning community that we can. We endeavour to create a school that is accessible to all families who want their children to learn with us, regardless of race, income, or family structure. We endeavour to hire teachers of the highest quality who bring diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences to their teaching. We aim for our school community to reflect the diversity in our local community. We recognize diversity as one of many parts of our work toward social justice. Our commitment to this work is long-term; it is part of a larger, ongoing process towards building a better society.
The Children’s Community School is an equal opportunity child care provider and an equal opportunity employer. Admissions, the provisions of services, and referrals of clients shall be made without regard to race, color, religious creed, disability, ancestry, national origin (including limited English proficiency), age, or sex. Additionally, our policies, procedures, and practices are designed to prohibit discrimination on the basis of family structure, sex, gender, or sexuality.