September 29, 2020
Dear Chrissy and Members of the Board of Trustees:
Our family has been in the Brooklyn Friends community since the early 1990s. I launched my teaching career there and stayed for five years; my husband taught at BFS for 27 years. Both of our children are lifers. Our son graduated in the spring after attending since Kindergarten, and our daughter started in the Orange Room and is now in her 10th grade year. We and our children have a deep and active social network in the BFS community, and we have never until now considered any other school.
Parents choose a school because of its culture. While the head of school may, through her initiatives and hiring practices, influence and steer that culture, it is brought to life by the teachers and staff on a daily basis. Every institution has its challenges; we have certainly experienced plenty of challenging and uncomfortable times at BFS, including transformative uprisings by students and teachers of color who managed to move the school forward by demanding that it live its values. This situation feels different; it is not rooted in a searching inventory of how the community needs to evolve, but in a sudden and unexplained change of course with no authentic reasoning. Leaders entrusted with the health and evolution of a beloved institution have begun treating teachers as disposable, interchangeable parts, easily replaced. We are realizing the school we love, and have sacrificed dearly for, is betraying its stated values, and is about to become profoundly ordinary. We fear that as a critical mass of teachers are either fired or choose to leave due to a hostile and unsafe work environment, an engaged and passionate parent body will also be replaced with others who have no love for Brooklyn Friends—perhaps just a desire to send their children to “private school”.
We sincerely hope you choose to embrace the Clerks’ proposal, rescind the petition to the NLRB, and allow the community to move forward.
Shoshana Wolfe and Tim Waugh