School Districts Talk about Race

The book, “Can We Talk about Race,” was among several used as a base of discussion in the workshop.
The book, “Can We Talk about Race,” was among several used as a base of discussion in the workshop.

Tackling the issues of race and diversity, the Putnam/Northern Westchester BOCES Center for Educational Leadership recently hosted the third in a series of four workshops to examine ways to enhance cultural competence in schools.


Using materials that address the subject, such as the books “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh and “Can We Talk about Race? And Other Conversations in an Era of School Resegregation[MF1] ” by Dr. Beverly Tatum, the workshops are examining race and cultural diversity in schools from a number of angles.


Participants include representatives from Croton, Rye, Lakeland, Wappingers and Newburgh school districts and the workshops are facilitated by Walter Panas High School Principal Dr. Susan Strauss, former Superintendent of the Ossining School District Dr. Phyllis Glassman and Coordinator of BOCES Center for Educational Leadership and HR Fredericka Butler.


Ms. Butler says that PNW BOCES is hosting this workshop series to meet recent developments in local school districts. “The suburbs are changing. The diversity of our student body and their families is increasing and in order for all students to achieve we need school faculties to be more culturally competent.”


Participants examine use of language and body language and discussed issues in the student population as well as faculty. In the third workshop, a panel discussion of human resources administrators shared how they recruited and retained candidates from minority groups to develop a diverse workforce in their respective districts.


Panelist Linda Ochser, former assistant superintendent of human resources in the White Plains School District, said she found success in reaching out to colleges that students of color from White Plains Schools attended. She said she found little success in recruiting candidates from the south: “The winter in New York is a real issue for people from warmer climates,” she pointed out.

Angela White, assistant superintendent in the Ossining Union Free School District, said that her district asks very specific questions in the interview process to address attitude to minority students. The third panelist, Peekskill’s Assistant Superintendent Joseph Mosey, said his district maintains a two-year mentoring program to support new teachers and raise retention. 


The fourth and final workshop in the series will be held on June 10.



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