November 2021 Update from Pollyanna
November 2021
Dear Friend,
Pollyanna has not been immune from the impact of the rising tide of misinformation we’ve seen dominating our national conversation in the past two years, particularly around the role of race and racism in education. Not only has our work been mischaracterized, but we’ve been called “divisive” and “dangerous.” 
Though we would rather spend time positively advancing our work, it is sometimes necessary to publicly rebut and refute claims that are both untrue and detrimental to our mission. We firmly believe that Pollyanna’s work in schools and organizations contributes to environments that are more just and equitable, and where every community member feels safe and belongs, able to be the most authentic version of themselves.
We’ve picked four of the most common myths that we have heard from opponents of our work and have highlighted them here. 
These myths threaten to undo our work, so we must undo them.
If you’d like to read a longer version with even more detail, research and documentation, please see Myths About Pollyanna.
Myth #1 - The Pollyanna Curriculum is compromising academic rigor in our schools. 

Pollyanna does not drive the mission or program at any school. Rather, we support the school’s DEIB mission and program through training and resources. The Racial Literacy Curriculum is standalone, meaning that it is not intended to revise or replace any existing piece of the school’s curriculum. Rather, it is intended to supplement existing curricula and--given its content--may invite teachers to reconsider or expand how they teach history and literary arts. The Racial Literacy Curriculum is meant, in fact, to intensify the rigor of traditional academic programs.

Furthermore, research suggests that there are real benefits for students to fostering classroom spaces in which diversity of all kinds are welcome. And in situations where racial and cultural diversity is lacking in a classroom, it is all the more important that teachers proactively bring into the classroom perspectives and insights that students might not otherwise encounter or entertain. Moreover, students who encounter and wrestle with diverse experiences are better equipped to enter a demanding workforce where emotional intelligence, cultural humility, and cross-identity engagement are necessary for success. Engaging in a racial literacy curriculum is academically rigorous. In short, it provides students with a skill set they can apply across disciplines and in their relationships.

But don’t take our word for it. Download the curriculum. It’s free. See for yourself.

Myth #2 - The Pollyanna Racial Literacy Curriculum is inappropriate for young children.

We couldn’t disagree more. This is fear-mongering. Ali Michael PhD, Director and Co-Founder of the Race Institute for K-12 Teachers, has a far more studied and accurate take: 

“The Pollyanna Racial Literacy Curriculum introduces the building blocks of racial literacy in developmentally appropriate ways via lessons that encourage dialogue, critical thinking, and self-reflection... Students will come away with clarity about the wrongness of racism, not because they have been told it was wrong, but because they have been introduced to an accurate global history as well as an accounting of how race and racism came to be. As our students prepare to become global 21st-century citizens in a multiracial nation, this curriculum will give them situational awareness and historical knowledge that will enable them to live and lead with their eyes wide open.”

Myth #3 - Pollyanna is teaching white children to feel badly about themselves.

Pollyanna’s work benefits children of all identities, including children who identify as white. White children also deserve to live in a more racially just and equitable world. We do not believe that working to create this world in our communities demeans, belittles, or marginalizes white children. To believe this would be to subscribe to an ugly brand of “either/or” thinking that smacks of the damaging and conspiratorial replacement theory embraced by white supremacists. Rather, we firmly believe the work of racial literacy lifts up white children, helps them develop a positive identity, and asks them to think about the contributions they might make in creating a more just and equitable world. Racial literacy can and should be a hugely positive and necessary piece of a well-rounded education for all children--including those who are white. 

Myth #4 - Pollyanna is dividing our communities.

James Baldwin famously undoes this myth when he wrote: “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” While community conversations about the intersections of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging can be challenging and difficult to navigate, we firmly believe that approaching them with courage, humility, and appropriate norms is the only way forward. A color-blind approach would be akin to receiving a cancer diagnosis and, rather than seeking the most appropriate and effective treatment, deciding that the best approach is to just not think about it. We cannot address that which plagues us if we are unable to discuss what the cure might look like. It is not Pollyanna or race talk more broadly that divides us––rather, what divides us is our failure to examine and discuss race in nuanced and compassionate ways. 

So much of Pollyanna’s programming is geared towards helping individuals and communities build capacity to face that which needs to be changed. This includes:

Assessments  - Pollyanna offers Community Assessments and Curriculum Assessments that collect and synthesize feedback pertaining to inclusivity, along with the guidance needed to implement systemic change.

Racial Literacy Workshops - Pollyanna’s workshops engage with Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging initiatives and enhance racial literacy knowledge and equity practices. We work to give communities the tools to accomplish their goals.

And, introducing….MaPaGa + Me - The ABCs of Race-Conscious Parenting:  A new 4-part workshop for parents/guardians/grandparents of children four years and younger. 

As always, we are grateful for your support. Let’s leave myths in their proper place and move forward together in this vital work.

All best,
Casper Caldarola

In the News

For Those Raising Children Four and Younger 
We are excited to announce our new 4-part workshop series: MaPaGa + Me: ABCs of Race-Conscious Parenting! This is for parents and guardians of children four years and younger and will be facilitated by Jacqueline Nelson, a former kindergarten teacher, DEIB educator, and mom of a two-year-old. Join Jacqueline as she creates connections and community for families with young children and teaches the group how to talk about race with each other and with their children. Click here to sign up!
Watkinson's Intra-Conference 
Watkinson hosted its first ever Pollyanna Intra-Conference: Day of Community and Belonging. Thank you to all the participants for joining in powerful dialogue focused on compassion, storytelling, and our responsibility to pursue equity through narrative change. And special thanks to conference keynote, Jason Craige Harris, for grounding everyone in this authentic and courageous conversation.
Harvard-Westlake Hosts Its 5th Conference
The theme this year was “Reimagining Resiliency with Resolve.” We are so grateful to every constituent group who courageously explored expectations and biases that exist around resilience, and reimagined what communities could look like if we shift to instilling an unshakable resolve in addition to resilience. We are especially grateful to our students who are not only leaning into these conversations and sharing their voice, but are leading the way to improve inclusion, belonging, and equity initiatives within their school communities.
8th-12th Graders: Join Monthly Teen Pollyanna Meetings
Join teens from across the US committed to helping their schools achieve their DEIB goals. We have interesting and informative monthly programming and each session will begin with a surprise keynote speaker. If you'd like to join us or invite your students or teens, our monthly conversations continue November 6. Please fill out or share this form to register.


K-8 Curriculum Feedback
Pollyanna believes deeply that all students, including the youngest learners, are leaders with the capacity to affect positive change in our society and world. This belief is most profoundly reflected in our K-8 Racial Literacy Curriculum. As more schools implement this curriculum, it is also important to gather feedback in order to consider how it might evolve moving forward. If you are using all or parts of the K-8 Racial Literacy Curriculum in your school, we'd love to hear from you. Please take a few moments to fill out this feedback form.
Show Your Pollyanna Pride on Your School's Website 
Websites are often the best places for community members and prospective families to see a reflection of the mission and values that matter most to a school. With this in mind, we are happy to offer a Pollyanna Partner School Badge to school communities with whom we have worked. If your school has hosted a conference, conducted an assessment, participated in professional development workshops, or implemented the K-8 Racial Literacy Curriculum, we would be proud to appear on your website. Please email and let us know you’d like the artwork. 
Fall Partners
Thank you to the following schools and organizations for allowing us to partner with you to achieve your DEI goals: Brockton Public Schools, MA; Burke's School, CA; City and Country School, NY; Community School, MO; Dalton School, NY; Dedham Country Day School, MA; Far Brook School, NJ; Hoboken Charter School, NJ; Lakeside School, WA; Los Angeles County Library, CA; Ravenscroft School, NC; Sheppard Mullin, NY; Stephen Gaynor School, NY; LA County Library, CA; Watkinson School, CT and Wellan Montessori School, MA.
November Pollyanna Conference
13 November - Far Brook School, NJ will host its 6th annual multi-school conference: Where Do We Go From Here?: Affirming Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Independent Schools
Upcoming Workshops & Discussions
11-6-21 -- Teen Pollyanna: Civic Engagement
Join teens -13-18 year olds - from across the US committed to helping their schools achieve their DEIB goals. We welcome DeNora Getachew, CEO, who will kick-off our meeting! 
Saturday, 6 November 2021 from 4:00-5:30PM ET on Zoom. Please fill out or share this form to register.
12-16-21 -- MaPaGa + Me: The ABCs of Race Conscious Parenting
This is for parents and guardians of children four years and younger and will be facilitated by Jacqueline Nelson, a former kindergarten teacher, DEIB educator, and mom of a two-year-old.
Thursday, 16 December 2021 from 12:00-1:00PM ET on Zoom. Click here for more information.
1-29-22 -- 3-Hour K-8 Racial Literacy Curriculum Overview PD with Jason Craige Harris
Join us for an interactive 3-hour overview and in-depth discussion of Pollyanna's free K-8 Racial Literacy Curriculum. This session is a great introduction for faculty/admin or for new faculty/admin, if your school has already implemented the curriculum.
Saturday, 29 January 2022, from 1:00-4:00PM ET on Zoom. Click here to learn more and register.
Pollyanna advances systemic change by developing stronger communities.
Pollyanna works with academic and other institutions to achieve their diversity, equity and inclusion goals. Through its unique conference models, discussion platforms, and racial literacy curricula, Pollyanna increases cultural competence.
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