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Running head: Current Trends Paper: Diversity in Education

Current Trends Paper: Diversity in Education Management and Student Achievement Gap S.Duncan University of Phoenix Monday, February 20, 2006

Current Trends Paper: Diversity in Education Management and Student Achievement Gap For the last two decades the themes of governance and management have continuously been on the top of education policy agendas in most countries. A great number of educational problems are now attributed to bad management or inappropriate mechanisms of governance, and politicians, as well as other social factors see increasingly the improvement of governance and management as a major tool for solving educational or education related social problems (Halasz, 2003). The current trend of diversity in education management is not just nation-wide, it is international, as stated by the above quote taken from a paper prepared for the 21st session of the Standing Conference of European Ministers of Education on; “Intercultural education: managing diversity, strengthening democracy”(Athens, Greece, 10-12 November 2003 – Council of Europe).
Multicultural Education Diversity in education begins with multicultural education or “the ability to create equal educational opportunities for students from diverse racial, ethnic, social class, and cultural groups so that they can function effectively in a pluralistic democratic society”: this is schooling for “equity, justice, and cultural democracy” (Banks & Banks, 1995, p. xi). Racial and ethnic diversity has been increasing and continues to increase steadily in the United States. However, socioeconomic background is the major player in school drop out rates, learning disabled designation, and the experience of educational failure. In order for schools to provide a fair and equal education to all they need to provide diversity in curriculum and in hiring. Diversity in education could encompass the following: • Changes in the content of the curriculum in all subjects and at all levels in order to integrate material related to the experiences and perspectives of all racial, ethnic, social class, and language groups. • The acknowledgement of the diverse influences of cultural and gender experiences on knowledge production as a means of understanding students’ ways of thinking, and the integration of these perspectives in the teaching and learning process. • The creation of educational strategies to alter students’ racial attitudes so that they will develop democratic values, including strategies to modify students’ self-rejecting attitudes as a consequence of the status of their racial, ethnic, national origin, social class, or gender group in the larger society. • Equitable techniques and methods for enabling students from diverse groups to achieve, as distinct from techniques which consider some individuals and groups as “culturally deprived” or “culturally different.” • The creation of a process for changing the culture and organization of the school so that students from diverse groups will feel culturally equal and empowered. Many educators believe that they do bring multicultural curriculum into their classrooms by celebrating black history month, women’s history month, and other culturally designated months. James Banks (1995) has designated this as “heroes and holidays.” This approach is easy to implement and little new knowledge is needed by the teacher. It is a basic approach but still has weaknesses. • By focusing celebratory attention on non-dominant groups outside the context of the rest of the curriculum, the teacher is further defining these groups as "the other." • Curricula at this stage fail to address the real experiences of non-dominant groups instead focusing on the accomplishments of a few heroic characters. Students may learn to consider the struggles of non-dominant groups as "extra" information instead of important knowledge in their overall understanding of the world. • The special celebrations at this stage are often used for justification -- not to truly transform the curriculum. • The Heroes and Holidays approach trivializes the overall experiences, contributions, struggles, and voices of non-dominant groups, fitting directly into a Eurocentric, male-centric curriculum. Multicultural education needs structural reform and social action and awareness in order for a significant change to take place. New materials, perspectives, and voices need to be woven seamlessly into the current frameworks of knowledge to provide new levels of understanding from a more complete and accurate curriculum. Teachers dedicate themselves to continually expanding their knowledge base through exploration and sharing this knowledge with his or her students.
Professional Development The student population in American schools is become increasingly diverse, educators must respond with school reform efforts that meet the needs of all students. School districts must develop culturally sensitive curricula that integrate multicultural viewpoints and histories, apply instructional strategies that encourage all students to achieve, and review school and district policies related to educational equity. Teacher education programs in particular are responsible for preparing future teachers to promote meaningful, engaged learning for all students, regardless of their race, gender, ethnic heritage, or cultural background. This call for total school reform strongly suggests that existing conceptions of education are inadequate for promoting multicultural equity. Unfortunately, these same conceptions have shaped the schooling of prospective teachers. Their education likely has been characterized by tracking (the process of assigning students to different groups, classes, or programs based on measures of intelligence, achievement, or aptitude), traditional instruction that appeals to a narrow range of learning styles, and curricula that exclude the contributions of women and people of diverse cultures. Neither the educational experiences nor the backgrounds and attitudes of prospective teachers equip them to participate in the culture of schooling envision for an increasingly pluralistic society. Mostly white and middle class, these prospective teachers typically are monolingual, and they bring little intercultural experience from their largely suburban and small-town backgrounds (Zimpher, 1989). Disturbingly, substantial numbers of teacher education students do not believe that low-income and minority learners are capable of learning high-level concepts in the subjects they are preparing to teach (Stoddart, 1990). To address these issues, James Banks notes the importance of integrating multicultural education within the teacher education curriculum: "An effective teacher education policy for the 21st century must include as a major focus the education of all teachers, including teachers of color, in ways that will help them receive the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to work effectively with students from diverse racial, ethnic, and social class groups." (Banks, 1993, pp. 135-136) In a comprehensive review of the literature, Zeichner (1993) identifies 16 key elements of effective teacher education for diversity. Twelve of these elements provide the organizational framework for "Educating Teachers for Diversity." Each element is a piece of the jigsaw puzzle of multicultural teacher education. Just as a puzzle must be completed in order to see the big picture, the education of teachers for diversity must be addressed in a holistic manner (Zeichner, 1993). The 12 elements are as follows: • Element 1: Pre-service education students are helped to develop a clearer sense of their own ethnic and cultural identities. • Elements 2 and 3: Pre-service education students are helped to examine their attitudes toward other ethno cultural groups. They are taught about the dynamics of prejudice and racism and how to deal with them in the classroom. • Element 4: Pre-service education students are taught about the dynamics of privilege and economic oppression and about school practices that contribute to the reproduction of societal inequalities. • Element 5: The teacher education curriculum addresses the histories and contributions of various ethno cultural groups. • Element 6: Pre-service education students are given information about the characteristics and learning styles of various groups and individuals. They are taught about the limitations of this information. • Element 7: The teacher education curriculum gives much attention to sociocultural research knowledge about the relationships among language, culture, and learning. • Element 8: Pre-service education students are taught various procedures by which they can gain information about the communities represented in their classrooms. • Elements 9 and 10: Pre-service education students are taught how to assess the relationships between the methods they use in the classroom and the preferred learning and interaction styles in their students' homes and communities. They are taught how to use various instructional strategies and assessment procedures sensitive to cultural and linguistic variations, and how to adapt classroom instruction and assessment to accommodate the cultural resources that their students bring to school. • Element 11: Pre-service education students are exposed to examples of the successful teaching of ethnic- and language-minority students. • Element 12: Instruction is embedded in a group setting that provides both intellectual challenge and social support. The 12 elements provide a concise introduction to the education of teachers for diversity. They do not provide a self-contained unit of instruction, because the education of teachers for diversity does not constitute a discrete area of study. Rather, it is richly related to several domains both within and outside education. Teacher educators are encouraged to draw on their own areas of expertise, such as instructional methodology; social, psychological, and historical foundations of education; clinical education; and U.S. history.
Student Achievement and the Diversity Gap The federal No Child Left Behind Act requires schools to identify and address achievement gaps between majority and minority groups of students. Specifically targeted are racial minorities, students with disabilities, gender disparities, low socioeconomic groups, and students with Limited English Proficiency or who qualify for English as a Second Language Programs. Studies reveal a significant gap in achievement between culturally diverse students and white monolingual students. Schools are now in a major paradigm shift to provide the diversity needed so that all students can learn and achieve at the level of their white, monolingual peers. A clear educational vision for achievement of this goal should be the first step in the assurance of this reform. Diversity in the nation’s schools is both an opportunity and a challenge. The nation is enriched by the ethnic, cultural, and language diversity among its citizens and within its schools. However, whenever diverse groups interact, inter-group tension, stereotypes, and institutionalized discrimination develop. Schools must find ways to respect the diversity of their students as well as help to create a unified nation-state to which all of the nation’s citizens have allegiance.

References
Banks, J. (1993). Approaches to multicultural curriculum reform. In J. Banks and C. Banks (Eds.), Multicultural education: Issues and perspectives. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Banks, J.A. (1995). Multicultural education: Historical development, dimensions, and practice. In J.A. Banks & C.A.M. Banks (Eds.), Handbook of research on multicultural education. New York, NY, Macmillan. (Ed 382 695)
Halasz, G. (2003). Governing schools and education systems in the era of diversity. Retrieved Feb. 20, 2006, from www.oki.hu .
Stoddart, T. (1990). Los Angeles Unified School District intern program: Recruiting and preparing students for an urban context. Peabody Journal of Education, 67(3), 84-122.
Zeichner, K.M. (1993, February). Educating teachers for cultural diversity (NCRTL special report). East Lansing, MI: National Center for Research on Teacher Learning. (ERIC Document Reproduction No. ED 359 167)
Zimpher, N. (1989). The RATE Project: A profile of teacher education students. Journal of Teacher Education, 40(6), 27-30.

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