Around New England

Cape Superintendent Worried His Public School Doesn’t Emphasize Diversity Enough

June 3, 2019

A Cape Cod superintendent took implicit shots at President Donald Trump during graduation this past weekend while emphasizing to students the importance of diversity.

Scott Carpenter, superintendent of the Monomoy Regional School District, didn’t mention any political figures by name, but he made references to immigration policy and a famous Trump slogan during the ceremony.

He started by voicing concerns that students at the public school may not have learned enough about differences.

“Today we are about to launch Monomoy’s graduating class of 2019 into their futures. This year I’m going to do something a little different, by asking for help from a few brave souls, in order to convey an important life lesson that I sometimes worry we haven’t fully imparted to our children before we send them off into the world. We live in the second least diverse county in Massachusetts, and Massachusetts is far from the most diverse state in our nation. Yet, your ability to embrace diversity and recognize the benefits of divergent perspectives and skills will be crucial for your success in life, and our success as a community and as a country,” Carpenter said.

He referred to a 2014 Scientific American article that argued that diversity improves problem solving, and he recommended that Monomoy graduates not only accept diversity, but seek it out.

“So graduates, as you head off into the future, you will have opportunities in college and your professional lives, to surround yourselves with teammates who look and think just like you. Or, you can choose to surround yourself with those who have different perspectives and cultures. The research is clear:  If you do all you can to ensure more divergent groupings – be it race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, and more – your project or venture will be more successful,” Carpenter said during the graduation of Monomoy Regional High School, which serves Chatham and Harwich, on Sunday, June 2, according to a YouTube video.

“The positive impact of diversity spans beyond productivity and teams. Cultural diversity fuels local and national economies, as well. Whether at the organizational, local, or national level, embracing diversity enhances output by increasing the breadth of skills, ideas, and innovative solutions,” he said.

At one point he called up four immigrant fathers of graduating seniors to talk about their experiences in America and the culture they grew up in. The men are originally from Haiti, Nepal, the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica.

Afterward, the superintendent described recent and projected future increases in population among certain ethnic groups in the area and elsewhere in the United States.

“We’re at an inflection point in the demographics of our country. And this is rapidly becoming evident on Cape Cod. According to the U.S. census, next year white children will be outnumbered by the children from other ethnic backgrounds, who we’ve long referred to as minorities,” Carpenter said. “Closer to home, our kindergarten and first grade classrooms here at Monomoy are nearly twice as culturally diverse as the graduating class of 2019 on the stage. And before our graduates reach the age of 45, the United States will be a majority minority country.”

He presented two stark alternatives.

“As a society, we can either react to this change with xenophobia, discrimination, and segregation, or we can leverage in our favor the truism that embracing diversity in all its forms makes us stronger,” Carpenter said.

President Trump’s slogan is Keep America Great Again. Without mentioning the president, Carpenter offered his own take, speaking of greatness in the continuing present tense instead of Trump’s imperative mood, and offering a different prescription for it.

“It is the richness of cultural diversity that made America great,” Carpenter said. “How successfully each of us embraces this diversity over the next several decades will determine, in part, whether we keep this country great.”