Frequently Asked Questions
Why was this group started? What is it hoping to achieve?
The group is working the ‘long game’ in the fight for social justice by focusing its efforts on empowering the next generation - our children - to be allies and advocates; to have a deep sense of self-awareness and contextual understanding, and the confidence and responsibility to know that they can make positive change happen. We see this as critical for a brighter future for everyone, and especially for their own future success.
To do this, we direct our work towards the kids directly and the people that care for them: Teachers and Parents/Caregivers. We also advocate at the GPS level.
Our vision is to create a collaborative partnership of educators, parents and caregivers who work to further inclusion, equity and tolerance in our community by supporting educational practices that model self-love, embrace and celebrate differences, identify unfairness and bias, and empower students to advocate for themselves and others.*
Parts of this vision statement are adapted from Britt Hawthorne, and developed by Louise Derman-Sparks and Julie Olsen Edwards.
One of the most difficult aspects in starting the committee was identifying ways we can make an impact. With a strong focus on the three stakeholder groups listed above - Kids, Teachers, Parents/Caregivers - we then focused our efforts around a few macro goals:
Normalizing Diversity: ensuring representation in school literature, with school and classroom libraries showcasing people of diverse backgrounds, abilities and family structures in everyday scenarios; finding opportunities to engage with people from different backgrounds; learning about and celebrating other cultures
Building Awareness of Bias: we see this as the critical first step to anyone in this journey - whether age 5 or age 50 - as well as an ongoing lens to apply to thought patterns and behaviors, media, curriculum, and other aspects of our daily lives
Prompting Conversations: both at home and at school, being comfortable and having the tools to talk about bias, race, and difference is crucial
While most of the committee’s work is focused within the schools themselves, we also maintain a strong advocacy arm, working with GPS at large to ensure ABAR practices continue to be a top priority. Our objectives here are to:
Lobby for a written commitment to ABAR added to the GPS website
Continue to support pedagogy changes to better align with ABAR values
Push for continued budgetary support for ongoing professional development and a district wide audit
How do I get involved?
We’re always happy to welcome new members to the Committee. Please sign up for our newsletter here for updates on upcoming meetings and events. You can also check the Upcoming Events section at the bottom of the homepage, or email us at leeteABAR@gmail.com for more information.
I don’t have a lot of time to spare. Can I still join?
Absolutely! It’s very important to us to respect everyone’s time, and we do that by keeping our meetings short and effective, emailing recaps for those who can’t make it, and providing a wide range of volunteer opportunities to fit anyone’s schedule.
Why is the group named “ABAR?”
ABAR stands for Anti-Bias Anti-Racist. Since coming together in April 2020, the steering committee has done extensive research on how to best form a group that would be effective in supporting Calvin Leete families, teachers and students in areas around bias (confronting "isms"; ableism, sexism, classism, to name a few) and racism. We were looking for a framework that was especially relevant for elementary-aged children.
The term ABAR resonated as an effective framework and structure already in practice with educators of young children. While this term may be new to members of our community, it has been widely used in education for many years, gaining traction in the last few years. Notably implemented in
National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) schools across the country, ABAR is a hands on, self motivated system for teaching students that emphasizes values of peace, justice, diversity and inclusion.
We spoke with Montessori schools from Oregon to New York, who have adopted ABAR practices and it resonated with our committee. As you can see, it's not a new term, but one that we wanted to adopt and form for our Calvin Leete community.
ABAR statements are being made by schools across the nation and we feel we would like to bring this effort and commitment to the Guilford Public School district at large. We hope that neighboring towns and cities will also adopt the ABAR lens and practices in their own districts.
If you're interested in learning a little more about the ABAR framework, you might be interested in checking out works by Louise Derman-Sparks, whose 2020 book,
Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves (Second Edition), informs and guides many ABAR education programs around the country.
Is this committee only working to address racism? What about all of the other “isms”?
The scope of the ABAR committee, as stated in our Mission Statement, is to address all forms of bias in our school community, not only bias in the form of racism. The education based teams formed to support the stakeholders (kids, adults, educators) are working very broadly to address diversity and bias at large.
Can I join the committee if I don’t have a child in Guilford Public Schools?
While we are always thrilled to connect with others who share our passion for this work, at this time we feel that the best way to ensure that our group can make an impact on Guilford students, teachers, and parents is to be routinely engaged with direct members of the GPS community.
That said, if you know of someone who is looking to start a similar program in another town or has questions about our work please feel free to share our contact information (
leeteABAR@gmail.com) and one of our members will be happy to help.
I don’t like the idea of suggesting that a child should feel guilty for being white.
Neither do we. Guilt has no place in this work, and certainly no place in any work that involves children.
There is nothing we can do today to change the past. But, that doesn’t mean that the past didn’t exist, and doesn’t still influence our environment and the systems that govern our everyday life. The process of identifying bias is about understanding how the cultural environment shapes our perceptions of ourselves and others subconsciously.
Research shows that bias is an unavoidable condition as early as age 3- no one is immune to it, and therefore it’s something we all must proactively address.
A child should never feel guilty for the unfairness in our culture, but they should be able to identify when something isn’t right, and feel empowered to advocate for fairness. Through this understanding a child is better equipped to accept and love themselves as unique individuals, and accept others in the same way.
I don’t want politics in the school.
This ABAR committee is not political. It is research- and fact-based work that seeks to correct systemic issues in education. It is in no way affiliated with a political party or agenda.