✯✯✯ Heterogeneous Classroom Essay

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Heterogeneous Classroom Essay



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Dealing Students in Heterogeneous Classes: Dr. Rakhi Kapoor

NY: Teachers College Press. Steele, Claude. Sternberg, Robert. Myths, countermyths and truths about intelligence, Educational Researcher , Vol. Recommended: Cohen, E. Producing equal status interaction in the heterogeneous classroom , American Educational Research Journal , 32, Gardner, Howard. November , Reflections on multiple intelligences, Phi Delta Kappan, pp. Abilities are forms of developing expertise. Educational Researcher, Vol. In Shulman, J. Lotan, Rachel A. Principles of a principled curriculum, in Cohen and Lotan Eds. Working for equity in heterogeneous classrooms: Sociological theory in action.

Designing groupwork: Strategies for heterogeneous classrooms , NY. Teachers College Press, Chapter 5. Bartolome, Lilia I. Understanding Academic Discourses pp TESOL, Carrasquillo, Angela L. Fradd, Sandra H. De La Luz Reyes, M. Cohen, , Designing groupwork: Strategies for heterogeneous classrooms, NY. Teachers College Press, Chapter 9. Models of cooperative learning: Academic controversy Simulation of academic controversy: The Tracking Debate. Johnson, David W. Structuring academic controversy, in S.

This development raises new possibilities for integrated schooling. Adding further to the political and legal sustainability of integration is the emergence of new policies that rely on choice and incentives rather than compulsory busing, and that use socioeconomic rather than racial indicators as the primary basis for integration. New policies rarely rely on compulsory busing of the type used in s, the authors point out. They note, for example, that more than forty interdistrict magnet schools have been created in the Hartford, Connecticut region to serve 16, students in schools with distinctive pedagogical or thematic approaches that are filled through voluntary choice.

When The Century Foundation TCF commissioned me to write a book about socioeconomic school integration in , just two districts in the nation, educating about 30, students, were pursuing such policies. Located in thirty-two states, both red and blue, these districts educate some 4 million students. One particularly innovative example can be found in New York State, where the commissioner of education now acting U. New policies—emphasizing choice and socioeconomic status—are proving popular among a new generation of parents.

Wells, Fox and Cordova-Cobo point, for example, to a remarkable change in attitudes in Louisville, Kentucky. In the early s, compulsory busing for racial desegregation was opposed by 98 percent of parent. By , a choice-based system emphasizing socioeconomic alongside racial integration was supported by 89 percent of parents. With leadership, such success stories can be replicated to help us move, at long last, beyond separate and unequal to something far better for all American students. Sign up for updates. Sign Up Follow us.

A growing number of parents, university officials, and employers want our elementary and secondary schools to better prepare students for our increasingly racially and ethnically diverse society and the global economy. But for reasons we cannot explain, the demands of this large segment of Americans have yet to resonate with most of our federal, state, or local policymakers. Instead, over the past forty years, these policy makers have completely ignored issues of racial segregation while focusing almost exclusively on high-stakes accountability, even as our schools have become increasingly segregated and unequal.

This report argues that, as our K—12 student population becomes more racially and ethnically diverse, the time is right for our political leaders to pay more attention to the evidence, intuition, and common sense that supports the importance of racially and ethnically diverse educational settings to prepare the next generation. It highlights in particular the large body of research that demonstrates the important educational benefits —cognitive, social, and emotional—for all students who interact with classmates from different backgrounds, cultures, and orientations to the world.

This research legitimizes the intuition of millions of Americans who recognize that, as the nation becomes more racially and ethnically complex, our schools should reflect that diversity and tap into the benefits of these more diverse schools to better educate all our students for the twenty-first century. The advocates of racially integrated schools understand that much of the recent racial tension and unrest in this nation—from Ferguson to Baltimore to Staten Island—may well have been avoided if more children had attended schools that taught them to address implicit biases related to racial, ethnic, and cultural differences.

This report supports this argument beyond any reasonable doubt. In both contexts, de facto diverse communities are forming, if only temporarily, before patterns of racial segregation re-emerge. It is also clear from our history that absent strong leadership at the federal, state, and local level to sustain diverse neighborhoods and schools, it is likely we will recreate high levels of racial segregation in both urban and suburban contexts.

In this report, we review the research and reasons why, in the field of education in particular, policy makers should listen to the growing demand for more diverse public schools. Drawing on the research from both higher education and K—12 education, we demonstrate that there are important educational benefits to learning in environments with peers who grew up on the other side of the racial divide in this country. This year, as the U. Supreme Court considers affirmative action once again in the Fisher v. University of Texas 4 case Fisher II , it is an important moment to consider how those arguments translate into the K—12 educational context.

In fact, researchers, policy makers, and educators in K—12 were, once upon a time, much more focused on the problem of racial segregation than they have been in recent decades. This shift in focus is due in large part, we argue, to the changing policy context in elementary and secondary education over the last several decades—away from school desegregation policy and toward a focus on outcomes and accountability in racially, ethnically, and socioeconomically segregated settings.

In fact, the emphasis in K—12 education on narrow student achievement measures has moved the entire field away from examining cultural issues related to race, ethnicity, and the social and emotional development of children. When we discuss the research evidence on the educational benefits of diversity, we are talking about a more meaningful form of racial and ethnic integration , leading to greater mutual respect, understanding, and empathy across racial lines. While we do not deny the many factors working against the creation and sustainability of more diverse schools and classrooms, we believe that K—12 researchers, policy makers, and parents should pay more attention to the arguments put forth in higher education court cases regarding the educational benefits to all students.

Furthermore, we argue that there already exists a body of research in K—12 education that similarly supports an argument in favor of the educational benefits of diversity, but that unlike the higher education research, it has been largely ignored in recent years. There is no institution better suited to touch the lives of millions of members of the next generation than our public schools.

This report will give voice to the millions who can envision this future for K—12 education and help us get there. Tracing the history of public policies to create racially diverse schools and universities in America—most notably school desegregation in K—12 and affirmative action in higher education—from the mid-twentieth through the early twenty-first century, we see important distinctions between these two educational sectors.

These distinctions help us explain why, at a time of increasing racial and ethnic diversity in the school age and young adult population in the United States, the policies of K—12 and higher education seem so completely disconnected regarding how to address these demographics changes. We argue that particularly in the last twenty-five years, the higher education and K—12 paths have drifted apart on the issues of campus, school, and classroom level diversity see Figure 1. This difference is grounded in at least two key factors:.

These benefits are real and substantial, but this focus on student outcomes almost exclusively as the central measure of equal educational opportunity, has, in the long run, led to less emphasis on the educational experiences of students in racially diverse schools and classroom, and thus, fewer efforts to support integration efforts. There are several political reasons for the distinctions between higher education and K—12 education, not the least of which is the heavy-handed, test-based accountability system that has been implemented in the K—12 system over the last twenty-five years.

In fact, many policy makers on both sides of the aisle believe the standards and accountability movement should assure that all students have access to a challenging curriculum, no matter what the racial make-up of their classmates may be. This policy context, coupled with the place-based nature of K—12 education amid severe residential segregation, highly fragmented school districts, and the limitations on interdistrict desegregation remedies after the Supreme Court decision in Milliken v.

Bradley, 8 add up to a public educational system that is simultaneously becoming increasingly diverse in terms of its student population and increasingly segregated and unequal. Figure 1. In other words, in the past few decades, prominent higher educational leaders, lawyers, and researchers have worked together to support race-conscious admissions policies, allowing college campuses to remain more racially and culturally diverse than most of the public schools their students attended prior to attending college.

Meanwhile, college admissions offices and campus tour guides consistently cite the diversity of the student body as a major asset that enhances the learning of all students in higher education. While our colleges and universities still have much work to do to make their campuses more diverse and more welcoming to students of all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, at least there has been institutional support for race-conscious admissions policies, which is a sharp contrast to the policy focus in K—12 education for the past twenty-five years. The question then becomes: How might K—12 educational policy makers and researchers play a role in bridging the higher education-K—12 divide on these issues?

Since the Regents of the University of California v. These arguments are couched in a First Amendment argument about the rights of universities to define their educational settings, an argument put forth by university leaders and grounded in social science research. Buttressing these arguments on the part of the universities is a growing body of evidence demonstrating several key academic and social outcomes related to student diversity on college campuses. The central takeaway from this scholarship is that students who attend colleges and universities with more racially and ethnically diverse student bodies are said to be exposed to a wider array of experiences, outlooks, and ideas that can potentially enhance the education of all students.

Supreme Court support, bolster, and enhance prior research findings demonstrating the educational benefits of racially and ethnically diverse college campuses. Several amicus briefs in the Fisher II case underscore that research more strongly than ever supports the benefits of college diversity and demonstrates that exposure to diversity enhances critical thinking and problem-solving ability, while also improving several other attributes related to academic success, including student satisfaction and motivation, general knowledge, and intellectual self-confidence. And improved learning actually occurs in these classrooms because abstract concepts are tied directly to concrete examples drawn from a range of experiences.

Recent events across the country concerning policing and campus unrest have raised more awareness of implicit, subconscious biases and how they can produce discriminatory behavior. When white students are in racially homogeneous groups, no such cognitive stimulation occurs. In addition to the robust social science evidence on the positive relationship between student body diversity and academic outcomes, there is a similarly impressive body of research supporting the correlation between campus and classroom diversity and an enhanced ability of students to exhibit interracial understanding, empathy, and an ability to live with and learn from people of diverse backgrounds.

The takeaway for policy makers in the K—12 education context is that there is extensive and solid evidence that intergroup contact and cross-racial interaction improves interracial attitudes toward an entire group and reduces prejudice and the implicit biases discussed above. Throughout the recent briefs in the Fisher II case, and building on an already rich body of social science evidence amassed for this and prior affirmative action cases, university officials and business leaders argue that diverse college campuses and classrooms prepare students for life, work, and leadership in a more global economy by fostering leaders who are creative, collaborative, and able to navigate deftly in dynamic, multicultural environments.

A workforce trained in a diverse environment is critical to their business success. Such college graduates, companies argue, provide more creative approaches to problem-solving by integrating different perspectives and moving beyond linear, conventional thinking. Employees are :. One meta-analysis synthesized twenty-seven studies on the effects of diversity on civic engagement and concluded that college diversity experiences are, in fact, positively related to increased civic engagement.

The four findings listed above are the most robust, but there is additional evidence of other positive results that flow from creating racially, ethnically, and culturally diverse learning environments for students. Research clearly and strongly supports a legal or policy argument in favor of greater student diversity on college campuses as a mechanism to potentially enhance the educational experiences of all students. Drawing on decades of research from organizational scientists, psychologists, sociologists, economists, and demographers, an article in Scientific American argues that diversity even enhances creativity and actually encourages the search for novel information and perspectives, leading to better decision making and problem solving.

Therefore, diversity can improve the bottom line of companies and lead to unfettered discoveries and breakthrough innovations. As the list of benefits of diversity in higher education and in the workplace continue to accrue, diversity on college campuses is seen not just as an end in and of itself, but rather an educational process. In fact, some research in higher education has shifted away from questions about whether students benefit from diverse learning environments in their post-secondary institutions to questions about how universities can foster the best conditions to maximize that impact. Hopefully, the question of how universities and their faculty can support the development of these educational benefits in classrooms and assignments will foster an examination of the level and nature of student engagement in the learning process.

For instance, diverse student bodies in higher education classrooms are more likely to produce the above-noted outcomes when group discussions in classrooms are focused on an issue with generally different racial viewpoints—for example, the death penalty. This shifts discourse from an emphasis on what students know to an additional focus on whether they know how to think and, more importantly, whether they are acquiring the skills needed to live and work in the twenty-first century.

These new developments in higher educational research on how to foster the educational benefits of diversity are still evolving and in many ways actually pick up where the K—12 research left off in the s, during which the policy focus for elementary and secondary education shifted away from issues of racial and ethnic diversity. In the following section we consider the evidence—old and new—within the K—12 research literature that we argue can be more tightly connected to and inspired by the important higher education work on diversity and learning. A robust body of research related to K—12 school desegregation and its positive outcomes was developed following the success of federal courts and officials in implementing more than three hundred school desegregation plans in the s and s.

This included an examination of both the short- and long-term outcomes of attending racially and socioeconomically integrated schools. The main focus of most of this research, however, has been on the short-term academic performance measured primarily by test scores of students attending racially diverse versus racially segregated schools. Indeed, state reading test scores in CREC regional magnet schools showed that the gap between black and white and between Latino and white students was eliminated in the third grade.

Additionally, by tenth grade the gap in scores between students from low-income families and other students shrunk to just under 5 percentage points in reading in interdistrict magnet schools, compared to 28 percentage points at the state level. Taken together, the achievement gaps between students of different races in these regional, interdistrict magnet schools are significantly smaller than the state overall. While there are a handful of studies that challenge the link between school desegregation policy and positive academic outcomes, they represent only a small slice of the literature.

Furthermore, these positive academic outcomes, particularly the closing of the achievement gap, make sense given that integrating schools leads to more equitable access to important resources such as structural facilities, highly qualified teachers, challenging courses, private and public funding, and social and cultural capital. The gap in SAT scores between black and white students is larger in segregated districts, and one study showed that change from complete segregation to complete integration in a district would reduce as much as one quarter of the SAT score disparity. For one thing, the educational expectations from school staff and performance of students who attend racially integrated schools are significantly higher than those of staff and students from racially segregated schools.

This can be largely connected to an overall improved school climate in racially integrated schools. There has been no distinction drawn as to how different student outcomes were related to the various ways in which students experienced desegregation in their schools and communities. Thus, the degree to which all students were treated equally or had teachers with high expectations for them was not a factor, despite the impact of such factors on student achievement data. Further, this early literature failed to calculate the prevalence of segregation within individual schools via tracking, or the extent to which black and white students were exposed to the same curriculum.

A growing body of research suggests that the benefits of K—12 school diversity indeed flow in all directions—to white and middle-class students as well as to minority and low-income pupils. For instance, we know that diverse classrooms, in which students learn cooperatively alongside those whose perspectives and backgrounds are different from their own, are beneficial to all students, including middle-class white students, because they promote creativity, motivation, deeper learning, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. In addition, there is a pedagogical value inherent in having multiple vantage points represented in classrooms to help all students think critically about their own views and to develop greater tolerance for different ways of understanding issues.

It allows for positive academic outcomes for all students exposed to these diverse viewpoints. For instance, evidence on how the persistence of implicit bias toward members of minority racial groups can interfere with the educational process by disrupting cognitive functioning for members of both the majority and minority could certainly apply to elementary and secondary students as well. Similarly, since white students in particular have been shown to benefit from racially and ethnically diverse learning contexts because the presence of students of color stimulates an increase in the complexity with which white students approach a given issue through the inclusion of different and divergent perspectives, this would most likely hold true if tested in a high school, discussion-based classroom.

In short, the better overall learning outcomes that take place in diverse classrooms—for example, critical thinking, perspective-taking—would no doubt apply in high schools as well. It showed that while racial segregation and isolation can perpetuate racial fear, prejudice, and stereotypes, intergroup contact and critical cross-racial dialogue can help to ameliorate these problems. Still, as with the higher education research, we need to more fully explore not only the what of K—12 school diversity, but also the how —how do elementary and secondary school educators create classrooms that facilitate the development of these educational benefits of diversity for all students?

To answer this critical question, we need to look at yet another body of K—12 research from the desegregation era and beyond. Perhaps the ultimate irony of the current lack of focus on the educational benefits of diversity within racially and ethnically diverse public schools is that prior to the rise of the accountability movement in K—12 education, there had been an intentional focus on multicultural education that explored curricular improvements and teaching issues within racially diverse schools.

They raised important issues about how school desegregation policies should be implemented to create successful desegregated schools. This research was also methodologically distinct—consisting mainly of qualitative, in-depth case studies that focused on the process of school desegregation and the context in which it unfolded. Perhaps the most prolific of the researchers on intergroup relations was Elizabeth Cohen, 72 who examined the experiences of students within desegregated schools and how educators could create learning conditions that would foster intergroup understanding and an equalization of academic status often otherwise correlated with racial background.

Public schools, therefore, are the natural setting in which such contact can occur. Few other institutions have the potential to bring students together across racial, ethnic, and social class lines to facilitate active learning to reduce prejudice. Other intergroup relations studies focused more on the psychological impact of school desegregation on students, particularly African American students. They tend to be inconclusive , because they imply a relationship between the particular conditions established within racially mixed schools and the ways in which children come to see themselves vis-a-vis students of other racial groups. Tracking and ability grouping in desegregated schools often perpetuated within-school segregation across race and class lines.

Again, identified as second-generation desegregation issues, this was starting to be addressed in schools across the country and drawing more attention from researchers by the s and early s. That came from yet another body of related work in the area of multicultural education. Critical work on the democratic goals of education echoes not only the concept of multicultural education, but also issues of democracy and pedagogy on racially diverse college campuses. Research documents positive academic outcomes for students exposed to these diverse viewpoints. Meanwhile, multicultural education, much like the more qualitative research on desegregated schools and within-school segregation, has garnered less attention in recent years, as the larger policy context has shifted its gaze away from issues of racial and ethnic diversity toward accountability and narrowly defined student outcomes.

Building on the groundwork of multicultural education research, CRP has also remained focused on the intersection between school and home-community cultures and how that intersection relates to the delivery of instruction in schools. While CRP does focus on the importance of culture in schooling, it always focuses directly on race, in part, perhaps, because it is so often adapted in all-black, one-race schools and classrooms. Another critique of CRP is that its more recent application is far from what was theorized early at its inception. There are thus new linkages developing between CRP and a broader understanding of how culture and race interact in the educational system. In fact, some scholars have advocated for different pedagogical models since the inception of CRP that seek to address social and cultural factors in classrooms.

Many of these models focus on the home-to-school connection as CRP does, while others expand on the application of even earlier concepts of critical pedagogy aimed at promoting concepts such as civic consciousness and identity formation. Most recently, a reflection on the misuse of CRP has called for the rethinking of original theory and welcomes a shift to the theory of Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy, which aims to foster cultural pluralism as part of the goals of a democratic society. Clearly, there is much rich information, conceptualization, and understanding in the K—12 literature on teaching and learning as it relates to issues of race and ethnicity more broadly.

The next step in utilizing these more culturally based understandings of schools and curricula is to apply this thinking to diverse schools and classrooms more specifically. Educators in schools across the country—some isolated in single classrooms and some working on a school-wide set of pedagogical reforms—are starting to grapple with these issues in racially and ethnically diverse classrooms. The fact that the educational benefits of racially and ethnically diverse campuses and classrooms has been a more central argument and defining theme of higher education jurisprudence, leadership, and research than it has in the area of K—12 research and policy is problematic, given the added attention generally to issues of teaching and learning in the K—12 literature.

But as we highlight in Figure 1, there are several reasons why issues related to the educational benefits of diversity appear to have fallen off the K—12 research radar screen in the last twenty-five years. This includes, most notably, a highly fragmented and segregated K—12 educational system of entrenched between-district segregation that cannot be easily addressed after Milliken v. Meanwhile, this fragmented and segregated educational system is governed by accountability and legal mandates that give no credence to the educational benefits of learning in diverse contexts. As noted above, several areas of research on the sociocultural issues related to teaching students of different racial and ethnic backgrounds that could help inform our understanding of the pedagogical approaches that foster educational benefits of diversity in the K—12 system are disconnected, often designed to address the needs of students in the racially segregated school system they attend.

In this section, we highlight the demographic, educational, and political forces that we think may have the potential to shift the system in that direction. Much attention has been paid to the fact that the U. Even more notably, this transition is happening much more quickly amid our younger population. Department of Education. Rapid growth in the Hispanic and Asian populations, coupled with a black population that has remained constant and a decline in the percentage of whites, has led to a total K—12 enrollment of 49 percent white, 26 percent Hispanic, 15 percent black; and 5 percent Asian for the —15 school year.

Coinciding with the changing racial makeup of the country and our public schools is a profound shift in who lives where. In many contexts, our post-World War II paradigm of all-white suburbs and cities as the places where blacks and Hispanics live has been turned on its head. Black suburbanization rates were even lower—about 12—15 percent—in the Northeast. But these racialized housing patterns are in the midst of another epic shift. Beginning slowly in the s and increasing in the s and s, when federal policies and regulations or lack thereof promoted home ownership among moderate-income families, growing numbers of black, Latino, and Asian families were moving to suburbs such as Ferguson, Missouri see Figure 5.

By , nearly 40 percent of blacks were living in the suburbs. Suburbanization has also increased among immigrant families—mostly Latino and Asian—and by , 48 percent of immigrants were residing in suburban areas. In the s, journalists and researchers were increasingly reporting on the growing number of distressed suburbs that were coming to resemble poor inner-city communities.

But the author was quick to note that declining suburban neighborhoods did not begin with the mortgage crisis, and they would not end with it as more people with high incomes move into the cities. The New York City metropolitan area represents a prime example of the most recent trading spaces phenomenon. The percentage of whites in Manhattan increased 28 percent between and , while it declined in nearby suburban Nassau County. During the same six-year period, the Hispanic population declined by 2 percent in Manhattan, but increased by 20 percent in Nassau. Meanwhile, a growing number of American suburbs where more than half of the U.

In fact, today, in the fifty-largest metropolitan areas, 44 percent of residents live in racially and ethnically diverse suburbs, defined as between 20 and 60 percent non-white. Indeed, it is increasingly clear that contemporary urban and suburban communities each contain pockets of both poverty and affluence, often functioning as racially and ethnically distinct spaces. In fact, by , one million more poor people lived in suburban compared to urban area s.

In Brooklyn, New York, for instance, a growing number of communities that were, only ten years ago, almost entirely minority and low-income are now becoming or have already become predominantly white and affluent. Ironically, in in-depth interviews we are conducting, white gentrifiers state that one reason they moved into the city was to live in neighborhoods more diverse than the homogeneous suburbs where many grew up. Similarly, they note that they want their children to attend public schools with other children of different backgrounds. There is much hard work to be done at the school level to assure that all students enrolled have the opportunity to achieve to high levels. In public schools with a growing population of more affluent students, educators often seek assistance in meeting the needs of a wide range of students.

In the last decade, a small but growing body of literature has documented the impact of urban gentrification on the enrollment and culture in public schools. There is also an emerging focus on the impact of changing demographics on suburban public schools. In other suburbs, further from the New York City boundary, the white, non-Hispanic population has stabilized at about 50 percent. In both contexts, educators and students are grappling with racial, ethnic, and cultural differences that many of them had not encountered before. When we think of education policies and practices to support and sustain the increasingly diverse public schools in both urban and suburban contexts, it is clear that K—12 educators and educational researchers have much to learn from the higher education research on the educational benefits of diversity in efforts to both close racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps while helping all students succeed.

And just as fair-housing advocacy has increasingly prioritized the stabilization and sustainability of diverse communities, education policy needs to follow suit. Unfortunately, too few policy makers see the need for such programs, even as a growing number of educators in diverse schools are clamoring for help to close those gaps and teach diverse groups of students. The current mismatch between the policies and the needs of an increasingly racially and ethnically diverse society inspire us to fill the void with compelling success stories of public schools working toward a greater public good by tapping into the possibility of changing neighborhoods to teach children how to thrive in a society of racial and cultural differences.

One of the schools we are studying in a gentrifying area is helping build more cross-racial understanding across the Hispanic and white parent groups by trying to assure more equal voice in the decision-making processes—everything from the kind of food and music available at the fund raisers to the mix of various field trips to cultural institutions. Schools and communities on the front lines of demographic change face significant obstacles to realizing the sort of educational benefits of diversity that can help us all understand and appreciate differences. Urban history suggests that when a racial group begins migrating to a new community, the existing population is likely either to be pushed out or to flee, setting into play a perpetual cycle of segregation and resegregation.

The most disadvantaged students are the most negatively impacted by such a failure. Thus, as leaders in higher education have relied heavily on social science evidence to put forth a powerful legal and policy argument in support of the educational benefits of diverse campuses and classrooms, the policy priorities in K—12 public education have gone in the other direction, with a strong focus on narrow accountability measures within increasingly segregated schools.

Policymakers who ignore the rapid demographic changes within the K—12 population miss a critical opportunity to lead this increasingly diverse nation toward a more equal and cohesive future. In fact, many voters would welcome more leadership in this area. Further, attitudes among whites have changed more , simply because they had further to go due to the fact that nonwhite respondents have favored diversity for longer and in larger numbers. Although diverse, integrated spaces are becoming more socially desirable, our society is still quite divided along racial lines in terms of perceptions of how far we still have to go to achieve racial equality.

While nearly all whites dismiss at least publicly ideas that blacks in particular are less intelligent or hardworking, and fewer oppose interracial marriage, they are increasingly less likely to believe that blacks continue to experience racial discrimination as a result of structural inequality and a history of slavery and oppression. These divergent perceptions point to the true educational benefits of diversity, particularly the democratic, deliberative goals of intercultural dialogue and understanding, and they are sorely needed—for students, parents, and community members.

These racial divides on issues of past injustices and ongoing structural inequality are best addressed through cross-racial dialogue and understanding. The need to sustain racially and ethnically diverse communities is vital to our future as a diverse democracy. A hopeful sign related to the last point above is that parallel to these shifts in racial attitudes is the growing desire for diverse schools and classrooms. Despite the many challenges and shortcomings of school desegregation that played out across the United States in the early phases of this policy, in the decades following the implementation of these policies, interracial contact slowly increased and racism among whites declined.

As our society becomes more diverse racially and ethnically, support for integrated schools has only grown stronger. A rise in support started in the late s and accelerated in the s. For instance, a review of public opinion on school desegregation found Americans increasingly in favor of desegregation. This was particularly true among people who have personal experience with desegregated schools. This included the agreement of the vast majority of African Americans—84 percent. A survey of more than three thousand adults found that nearly three-fifths of respondents—including 60 percent of white parents—said they believed integrated schools were better for their children.

According to a Newsweek survey, 71 percent of all respondents felt that increasing diversity and integration in public schools is important to their improvement. This number was higher among African American and Hispanic respondents than among whites, but is much higher among whites than in previous years. The wording of this question, which is the only one that has remained nearly identical, allows for a comparison in responses that would not have been possible otherwise.

Again looking at a local context, Louisville, Kentucky provides a good microcosm of changing racial attitudes about diverse schools. In the s, when the school desegregation plan was first proposed, 98 percent of those polled in the Louisville area were opposed to the plan. S Supreme Court ruling in that sharply curtailed the use of race in the Louisville student assignment plan, the school district actually tried different ways of promoting diversity. Similarly, a recent grassroots movement in Wake County, North Carolina is an example of the strong support that parents, students, and school leaders have for maintaining racially diverse public schools.

For example, after the courts ruled to release the Charlotte Mecklenburg School District in North Carolina from their court-ordered desegregation plan, the district fought against the decision, arguing that they had a compelling interest in maintaining racially integrated schools. The unfortunate reality is that even for parents who prefer diverse schools, these structural challenges make finding and choosing these schools very difficult. This parent, and millions like him, know intuitively that educating children in racially segregated schools does not prepare them for living and working in the increasingly diverse society in which they will become adults.

As was well-documented in the amicus briefs in the Fisher II case, there is mounting evidence that universities and employers are seeking students and employees who can work with diverse groups of people and who have cross-cultural, group-work skills. One has to wonder why, when so many parents, universities, and employers want to see our children attending less racially isolated public schools, our policy makers are not listening. The lack of attention to this matter on the part of our political leaders is all the more puzzling given the recent backlash against the policies they have recently supported, most notably, standardized tests. Over the last three decades, public schools in the United States have been required to measure student learning with greater frequency via state-mandated standardized tests.

Since , the federal government has played a central role in the accountability movement, basically forcing each state to establish an accountability system or lose federal funding. If all we value about education can be illustrated in a few numbers, then these recent policy developments are acceptable—good even. But if we want more than that, then this trajectory is problematic. The strong negative correlation between the percentage of black, Latino, and low-income children in a school and its average test scores has been persistent.

But these understandings are too rarely discussed. Meanwhile, research on learning and pedagogy suggest that the best way to engage students is to build on their existing knowledge and then connect those understandings to more abstract and unfamiliar topics. An approach to accountability that relies almost exclusively on standardized tests often has a negative impact on the educational experiences of all children, but particularly those of low-income black and Latino students.

It also works directly against political incentives to create more racially and ethnically diverse schools. Such a system is anything but colorblind, and can only be addressed via a race-conscious and progressive agenda. Part of that agenda could potentially include several elements found in the newly implemented Common Core Standards reform. In fact, many progressive educators celebrate the fact that the Common Core, if taught in a manner that does not put standardized tests at the center, provides students with the opportunity to engage in close critical readings of complex texts and to question and interrogate what they read. In theory, the Common Core provides teachers with more freedom for planning meaningful literacy experiences for students. The Common Core guidelines even recommend some texts that reflect a departure from the traditional canon that has marginalized students from non-white and low-income backgrounds for many years.

Such pedagogy is best used in culturally and racially diverse schools and classrooms. Historic civil rights organizations, such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, are embracing this progressive potential of the Common Core. Such efforts can and should be shared and expanded. In racially and ethnically diverse schools, such experiences could easily tap into, strengthen, and augment the educational benefits of diversity in a manner similar to what the universities and some schools districts for example, Lynn, Massachusetts are arguing for in the courts. When good ideas that could help support racially and ethnically diverse schools and prepare all students for a more dynamic and diverse global economy are being thwarted by a testing regime, it is time to reevaluate the importance we have placed on narrow measures of student achievement.

Building on a groundswell of resistance to such approaches across the country , a more race-conscious and progressive policy agenda can unfold. The success of this approach will depend on using the knowledge researchers have gained over the past several decades in both the higher education literature and K—12 literature as discussed in previous sections. This legislation not only grants more decision-making power to the states, but it also requires assessments to involve multiple measures of student achievement, including measures that assess higher-order thinking skills and understanding. In other words, student growth may be assessed in the form of portfolios, projects or extended performance tasks. At the same time, higher education scholars and educators have much to learn from K—12 researchers and teachers about how to connect the sociocultural issues of diverse schools to teaching and learning.

All this can lead to a more thoughtful educational policy and practice from kindergarten through graduate school. As we have noted, despite the policy setbacks against racially diverse public schools, leaders, parents, and advocates at the local level have fought back in support of racial and ethnic diversity in public education. There are still school districts that continue to pursue racial integration in schools and exemplify the benefits integration has for all students regardless of the limits that federal courts have placed on such local decision making.

This led to a concerted effort to reduce racial segregation in and around the Hartford area. The result was a lottery-based magnet school system designed with the goal of achieving racial, ethnic, and economic integration. By the —14 school year, there were over forty interdistrict magnet schools with different curricular themes and teaching methods in the greater Hartford area serving over sixteen thousand students from multiple suburban communities in and around Hartford.

For these schools to maintain their magnet status, they must meet integration standards, which dictate that 25 percent of students must be white and half of the students must be from the suburbs. However, it is important to note that no student is admitted on the basis of their race or ethnicity to meet these requirements.

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