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home : columns : dear harriette January 16, 2018

12/23/2017 9:19:00 AM
School needs help with diversity

DEAR HARRIETTE: My daughter goes to a majority-white school. We are African-American, but we love that she goes to this school because the education is excellent. Our one real concern is that there are never many black students. For the five years that she has been at this school, there may have been at most four black students during any school year. I wish the school had more diversity, and I am willing to help it find people, but it doesn't seem interested. I am committed to my kid, so I want the school to take this seriously. What can I do? -- Black Lives Matter, Bronx, New York

DEAR BLACK LIVES MATTER: Your school's leadership could use a wake-up call about what diversity means. First, find out what the school's mission is regarding diversity. Request a meeting with the dean or head of school. Express your concerns clearly, pointing out that you believe the student body would be better off if it reflected a broader range of ethnic backgrounds. Ask the administrators if they are doing anything to recruit minorities and what the stumbling blocks have been.  

Some schools say that they can't find full-paying minority families and they have limited financial aid available. That could be true at your school, but guess what? There are plenty of minorities who can pay full fare. Recommend that the school hire a recruiter who knows the black and Latino communities. Even if it tries it for just one year, this can help to diversify the student body pool.  

If you find that your school's leadership is not listening, consider talking to the other minority parents to see if they will join with you in pushing the leadership toward greater diversity. If nothing works, you may want to reconsider where your daughter goes to school.  

DEAR HARRIETTE: A very dear friend of mine recently asked me to help her out of a financial rut. I helped her once before, years ago, and it was a little awkward. This time, it seems like she is right back in the same situation. I don't feel comfortable giving her money, as I don't think it is going to help her change her course. I love her so much, but I don't think this is what I should do. How can I say no without alienating my friend? She is down and out, but I don't think I can help her through this one, at least not by writing a check. -- Friend in Need, Dallas

DEAR FRIEND IN NEED: The easiest, though seemingly most painful, way to handle this is to state your case immediately. If you haven't already, tell your friend that you will not be able to help her out financially this time. Rather than walking away entirely, you can offer to guide her toward financial stability. Point her to a personal finance adviser who may be able to help her devise a payment plan with her creditors. Often they can negotiate deals with creditors that make it easier to pay. Be your friend's cheerleader if she will let you, but hold your ground about giving her money if you feel uncomfortable doing that.

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