Taft School faculty acknowledge their “whiteness;” admissions group crafts “optimal platform to create the ideal student body”
The Taft School, an elite co-ed boarding and day high school in Watertown, Conn., offers an “affinity” group to faculty and staff called The Taft Anti-Bias, Anti-Racism Caucus (TABARC) where faculty say they “acknowledge that we are White, affirm that we are Anti-Racist, and pledge to Caucus for personal and political change.”
The group was founded as part of the “work” Taft undertook during the summer of 2020, after alumni “demanded change” in the wake of the murder of George Floyd.
Taft’s “commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)”
TABARC is the foundation of Taft’s “commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)” which includes: “Exploring Whiteness”, “Relearning History”, “Listening to BIPoC Voices”, and working to “help white faculty and staff reflect on interactions they’ve had on campus, pass a critical eye over curriculum, question institutional structures, and strive to involve more white students in anti-racism work.”
Taft’s DEI work includes hosting speakers (during its “Morning Meeting” Spiritual Life program) such as Dr. Rydell Harrison who on Feb. 17, 2022 shared with students insights from his half-finished libretto about “Violet”, a “black trans woman”, whose “marginalized identities complicate the process” of her college experience. During the presentation, Dr. Harrison sang excerpts from the musical’s lyrics a cappella: “🎼to be seen, to be heard…🎶” Dr. Harrison joined the Yale-affiliated Partners for Educational Leadership in 2021.
About The Taft School
The Taft School was founded as an all-boys boarding and day school by Horace D. Taft, the younger brother of President William Howard Taft, in 1890. The school became co-ed in 1971. Taft enrolls about 600 students at its 226-acre campus. Tuition for the 2022-23 academic year is $69,600 for boarding students and $51,700 for day students. As of June 2022, the school’s endowment was $282,900,000. Taft is a member of the Ten Schools Admission Organization (TSAO) which facilitates the admissions process for its 10-member boarding schools: Andover, Choate, Deerfield, Exeter, Hill, Hotchkiss, Lawrenceville, Loomis Chaffee, St. Paul’s, and Taft.
The Taft campus boasts state-of-the-art athletic facilities including an athletic center, a family pavilion and tennis courts, multiple athletic fields including a synthetic turf field, an ice rink, a hockey arena with an NHL-size ice surface, and an 18-hole championship golf course.
In August 2022 the school began a search for a new head of school, as current Head of School, William R. MacMullen, plans to retire in June 2023. According to its head of school Opportunity Statement, Taft is an affirmative action-equal opportunity employer.
The Taft Anti-Bias, Anti-Racism Caucus (TABARC)
The Taft Anti-Bias, Anti-Racism Caucus (TABARC) trains Taft faculty and staff in “anti-racism.” The group uses videos from Robin DiAngelo, Ali Michael, Debby Irving, Rachael Ryan, Greg Hawes, act.tv, and NPR. The group suggests the following readings:
- Grading for Equity: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How It Can Transform Schools and Classrooms by Joe Feldman
- The Guide for White Women Who Teach Black Boys by Eddie Moore Jr., Ali Michael, et al.
- I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown
- “The Case for Reparations” by Ta-Nehisi Coates
TABARC began as the “White Anti-Racist Caucus” in the summer of 2020. After George Floyd’s death, Taft alumni sent the school a letter “demanding change” and then created the [email protected] Instagram page “detailing the trauma and discrimination BIPOC students have faced on campus for decades.” In response, according to the post “The genesis of the White Anti-Racist Caucus” on Taft’s website:
“White faculty realized that they needed a space to learn, process, and grow that would not burden BIPOC faculty and students. We needed to educate ourselves, hold each other accountable, and learn from each other. We needed to provide models for our white students in the ways we spoke about our own whiteness and role in white supremacy and systemic racism. Finally, the formal group would serve as an important signal to the Taft community that Taft is serious about anti-racism; a formal group also allows information to be shared more easily and gives folks a sense of where to go for support and guidance.”
Taft’s Sept. 2022 diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) report
According to Taft’s Sept. 2022 diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) report, the Taft “admissions group is crafting an optimal platform to create the ideal student body, and this includes recruiting and yielding a critical mass of traditionally marginalized students.”