Meet the Westchester Education Services Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee
Rosemary Dannin, Project Manager:
Our work is incredibly important. As a Project Manager I do not impact content but am always curious about the student who is reading the book, receiving the material on their computer, taking that test. Being on the DEI committee is my way of contributing to the common good of Educational Publishing.
I bring to the DEI committee a desire to see all students succeed.
Roger Market, Senior Project Manager:
As a child, I legitimately thought gay people existed only in a couple of movies and TV shows I had seen—and usually not as anything positive. It wasn’t until my first day of junior high that I learned the truth, that being gay was not a fantasy. It wasn’t until I was 22 years old, during an internship before my last year of undergrad, that I began to accept the truth about myself, although I wasn’t sure I knew the word to describe it; by then, I knew there were others, including “bisexual,” “trans,” and “queer” (the nuanced definition vs. the cruel one). And it wasn’t until January 1, 2010, after spending New Year’s Eve with my younger sister and her friends while on winter break from grad school, that I actually said it aloud to someone else, with tears but with confidence: “I’m gay.” I was six weeks into a relationship with my second boyfriend, the person I’m with to this very day.
I’m on this committee because no child should ever grow up thinking he/she/they are not real.
Walter Henderson, Senior Supervising Editor of ELT:
Studies show a complete lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion in our textbooks and other important academic content. The use of course materials that seldom relate to students or their own experiences does have a negative impact. We must remind ourselves that we are educating heterogeneous societies. When students see themselves reflected on pages, they can better connect with and internalize lessons.
Diversity refers to the representation of our varied identities including, but not limited to gender, race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, language, religion and faith, age, national origin, and disability status. Equity is about working to provide fairness and justice. And inclusion involves properly representing all groups and enabling them to fully participate. When we bring the three together, we are able to create learning environments that allow everyone to thrive.
Content creators who adopt DEI measures strive to provide students with a fair chance at reaching educational goals. We must ensure that all students can see themselves in our education content, and avoid omission and misrepresentation. Without this, we continue to offer students no more than a single worldview. By bringing DEI to the forefront, we are able to incorporate a wealth of ideas, experiences, and perspectives that reflect the world that our youth actually live in. Putting in this extra work to ensure that different people and viewpoints are represented in our content allows us to strengthen student experiences. Over time, DEI initiatives can help all of us build more meaningful connections and deeper understandings of the people and places around us.
David Bailis, Senior Director of Operations:
As we know, ALL people bring a wide variety of abilities, backgrounds, and talents to whatever they do. It has always been very important to me that EVERYONE feel included.
All people benefit from this conversation, and in education, the most important agent of change the human species has ever created, we can be a leader in helping move the process of including people of diverse backgrounds and showing the importance of equity in the educational content that is delivered to the students.
To effect the necessary changes that we want to see in the future, we need to focus on the content we create and guide our clients to see what needs to be done.
Nilofer Ali, Resources Manager:
As a hybrid – half white, half brown – Muslim girl growing up poor in a suburb of Chicago, I found myself always on the outside. Home life was a mix of beautiful and terrible, and I fit in with neither my Euro-descendant classmates and neighbors nor the fully Indian/Pakistani kids at the mosque we attended. All of that was fine though, because I lived in the stories I constantly read of people with fantastic lives completely unlike my own. Later I did make friends who were more like me, but it wasn’t until I hit some severe trials of adulthood that I landed with a hard crash into reality, and the disparity between my experiences and the experiences of others began to clarify for me. I have spent all of my adult years blazing my own trail and later trying to be there for others like me, because there is no literature, no movie, no music that speaks to anything like our experiences.
There are so many stories which remain untold, and to have a story that is unlike those you see around you is a very lonely place for any human. I’m fortunate and blessed to be in this position where I can play a part in shining the light on the human stories that haven’t been sufficiently shared, so that young folks know they are not alone, and that their stories and experiences are worthy of recognition.
Meg Overman, Senior Editor:
I’m interested in being part of the DEI committee because I feel that it is vital for the editorial department to be involved in the effort to actively pursue diversity in the talent pool. Part of editorial’s job is to author and edit passages and assessment items that will directly impact the student learning experience. I recognize the importance of representation in that material—and the equal importance of achieving that representation by paying a diverse group of people to apply their lived experiences to the work, rather than asking a white/cis/het/able-dominated pool of writers/editors to speak for or attempt to represent everyone. The #OwnVoices movement in the traditional publishing industry is just as important in the educational publishing industry, with the added complication that students have little say in which textbooks they read. That puts the onus on us to get this right. We can best serve both the students and the industry as a whole by holding ourselves to the highest standard of inclusion and representation.
Visit our DEI Resources page that is regularly updated with articles, studies, and associations who are helping to advance the principles of a diverse, equitable and inclusive society.