Quakertown district hires Pearl S. Buck Foundation to help with racism issue
Date of publication: Dec. 8, 2017
By Charles Malinchak
Special to The Morning Call
The foundation created by 20th century author and humanitarian Pearl S. Buck has been tasked with trying to neutralize racist and other anti-social behaviors in the Quakertown Community School District following a disturbing display at an October football game.
The district hired The Welcome Workplace, a program created and administered by upper Bucks County-based Pearl S. Buck International, to develop “an intercultural competency assessment and diversity and inclusion training.’’
PSBI program vice president Laura Lomax briefly explained to school board members how the program operates and how input from the entire district staff, teachers and students will be integral to bringing about change.
The district called for the program after an incident at a football game in October between Quakertown High School and Cheltenham High School where racial slurs and hateful comments were hurled at Cheltenham cheerleaders by Quakertown middle school students.
Two students were disciplined, according to the district, but what that discipline was has not been disclosed.
Superintendent Bill Harner said at the meeting it was sad that one incident can tarnish the reputation of a school district and community when the majority of both do not hold those attitudes.
“I personally went to Cheltenham, my alma mater, and apologized for the misbehavior of a handful of students. But this is not just a Quakertown problem. It’s a world issue which is, we don’t get along very well,’’ he said.
Still, he said, “The fact is it happened and it’s something we need to address.’”
Lomax, the daughter of the late noted physician and philanthropist Dr. Walter Lomax, said some of the components of the program include an assessment process to find how people react to differences in others through a one-on-one, confidential questionnaire and interviews.
“We would be measuring cultural competence. Explore a self-awareness of curiosity, commonalities and empathy,” she said.
“People can actually learn to be more understanding,” Lomax said.
The $30,000 program has been used in other school districts such as Centennial and Neshaminy, both in Bucks County, and Souderton in Montgomery County.