African Americans at Sidwell Friends

I have now had word from Ellis Turner, the Associate Head of Sidwell Friends School, with further information on the racial composition of the school. He reports that 12.8% of his students are African-American. But when we compare this percentage with US Census figures for the District of Columbia, where 55.4% of the population is Black, we can see that African Americans at Sidwell are not doing well — they have less than a quarter of what their share would be if the student body were representative of the District.

Mr. Turner also reports that a further 13.2% of the student body reports itself as “multi-racial” (the Census figure is 1.5% for multi-racial in the District). The significance of this figure is not clear to me, and, unlike Mr. Turner, I cannot see that it mitigates the very low African American presence at the school.

Moreover, given this low African American presence, I must repeat that the only figure published by the school for “students of color” on its website — 39% — is misleading.

Finally, Mr. Turner has taken me to task for my suggestions that Sidwell share some of its resources with the public. I have made these suggestions for two reasons: 1) Like all non-profits, Sidwell is the recipient of significant public financial aid by way of tax benefits; and 2), more important, such sharing is required by the professed values of the school. Here are Mr. Turner’s comments:

Further, you make an erroneous assumption in stating that we do not
“share some of your resources with the public, especially with those
children who have no hope of ever attending your school.” We have many programs and co-sponsored activities which do just that.

Please investigate before you publish.

I have invited Mr. Turner to let me have details on these programs and co-sponsored activities, and I will put them on my blog as soon as I receive them. It would indeed be good if there could be a public discussion of what SFS does to share its bounties.

2 thoughts on “African Americans at Sidwell Friends”

  1. If you re-read my email, you will see that I asked you to call me for details after Thanksgiving. You, once again, mislead your readers into believing you are waitng on me to provide you with information. I,sir, am waiting for you to contact me, as you were invited.

  2. I will be happy to publish any information that you let me have in writing about how you help the larger community, and I will do it promptly. To what extent are your wonderful facilities — all those gymnasiums, and tennis courts, and libraries — open to public school children in Washington ? Don’t forget, the public helps to pay for your facilities through generous tax provisions. And don’t forget what you say on your website: “The Quaker belief that there is ‘that of God’ in each of us shapes everything we do at Sidwell Friends School.”

    You are quite right that you asked me to phone you. But I am not a professional journalist, and I don’t want to be responsible for reporting what has been told to me on the phone. There are too many possibilities for misunderstanding.

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