A Message from Friends Council Regarding Brooklyn Friends School
Every Friends Council member school operates under its own governing structure that determines its own path. Friends Council's mission and work does not include taking a position on whether or not a school's workforce should be unionized.
Friends Council does seek to help all schools acknowledge and embrace the tensions between the peculiar practices of Quakers and the practical realities of the good management of Friends schools. In fact, much of our work involves helping schools think about their governance and spiritual structures and practice.
One of the most unique of Quaker practices is the way in which we make decisions. This practice is the result of translating what Quakers believe spiritually into a practice that honors both the individual Light within all of us and the health and well-being of the full community. One of the most important aspects of this decision making practice is that it is non-adversarial; there are no "sides" in this practice, only a hoped-for outcome that achieves unity for a particular Quaker community.
The hierarchical authority structure at Friends schools stands in tension with the full practice of Quaker decision making. Friends schools work constantly to ensure participation in decision making across constituencies and individuals, while providing clear definition about how particular decisions are being made. At our schools, we embrace this tension by making clear the process by which a particular decision is made and inviting opportunities for critical voices to be present. This tension exists in every Quaker school community, unionized or not.
Quaker beliefs on equity and justice often lead Quakers to take politically progressive positions on the issues of the day. These positions lead Quakers to generally support organized labor. Organized labor clearly makes a difference in our society by lifting the wages, benefits, and protections for all workers in our country.
The negotiating practices of unions are, however, in tension with the decision making practice of Quakers. Unions work to support and lobby on behalf of one side of the labor/management divide. One of the most critical truths of any Quaker community is that we do not see or treat one another as adversaries. How should a school rightly resolve this tension?
It is our hope that Brooklyn Friends School can find its way forward as a community. We appreciate and embrace all of the relationships that we have with the Brooklyn Friends School leadership, teachers, and staff. We hold all constituency groups of the Brooklyn Friends School in the Light as they seek a way forward through this current time of conflict.