Harvard-Westlake School Launches Social Justice Initiatives to Combat ‘Systemic Racism’

Harvard-Westlake School
Harvard-Westlake School

The prestigious Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles, California, announced last week in a letter sent to the community that it is adopting several “anti-racism” initiatives that have been designed to combat “systemic racism.”

In a letter that was sent to the Harvard-Westlake community last week, President Rick Commons announced that the school has adopted a comprehensive plan to promote social justice values. The plan impacts nearly every aspect of the life and operations of Harvard-Westlake, from the academic curriculum to the faculty hiring process.

The annual tuition at the Harvard-Westlake School, which offers education from grades seven through twelve, is $41,300. The school has produced many high-profile alumni including Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner, actor Jake Gyllenhaal, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow. The school only accepts one of out every three or four applicants for admission into the seventh grade class. The admissions process is even more competitive for those applying for admission into the ninth grade class.

“We define anti-racism as the active opposition to systemic racism through intentional actions, policies, or practices. This opposition must be present at the individual, interpersonal, institutional, and structural levels, with understanding and commitment from all in the Harvard-Westlake community, as we all bear responsibility for the fulfillment of our mission,” the letter reads.

A pamphlet that was published to Harvard-Westlake’s website elaborates on the various initiatives that the school plans to take to combat “systemic racism.” The pamphlet claims that the school will modify the curriculum to “ensure cultural representation and responsiveness.”

For example, students will now be required to participate in an in-depth study of the Civil Rights movement. In their world history course, eighth-grade students will now learn about the “impact of colonialism and imperialism on the non-European world.”

The pamphlet also claims that all teachers be required to participate in “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” training. As of the 2017-2018 academic year, all teachers have been required to participate in implicit bias and “cultural competency” training. Other mandatory faculty workshops have focused on topics including “structural racism” and “inclusive pedagogy.”

Harvard-Westlake’s willingness to promote social justice values is not a completely new development. In 2014, the school adopted a mission statement that placed the values of “diversity and inclusion” at the forefront.

“Harvard-Westlake strives to be a diverse and inclusive community, united by the joyful pursuit of educational excellence, living and learning with integrity, and purpose beyond ourselves,” the mission statement reads.


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