Racially diverse ‘new majority’ set to reshape US public schools

April 16, 2016 in News by D

Source: www.csmonitor.com
By Stacy Teicher Khadaroo

America’s public schools are a snapshot of a changing America: Since 2014, for the first time in the country’s history, a majority of those in public schools have been students of color.

That’s more than just a statistic. The rise of this “new majority” promises to have sweeping effects on American schools over time. The voices and interests of these students and their parents will need to be better woven into the decisionmaking that affects United States classrooms, many education experts say.

What’s their emerging message? In part it’s in keeping with the age-old desires of families everywhere: a good education in safe schools. But it’s also a call for greater equity in school quality – a longstanding sore spot in America’s education system that’s growing harder to ignore. And for some in this new majority, the definition of a good education includes shaping lessons that truly embrace diversity.

Consider just this one finding from a new poll of black and Latino parents: The sense of racial bias was so strong for some parents that a quarter of Latinos and a third of African-Americans agreed with the statement, “Schools in the US are not really trying to educate Black/Latino students.”

The poll focused on education, and that one finding suggests that, despite years of education reforms, states have a long way to go to succeed in the dawning new-majority era. One of the places to start, judging by responses in the poll, is figuring out how to better fund schools in communities that don’t have the tax base of middle-class suburbia.

“The quality is not the same due to less funding,” a Latino parent said of schools serving primarily students of color, during a Chicago focus group tied to the poll. The parent said the money gap means “less teachers, less technology available … and less overall academic opportunities.”

And opportunity is the goal for these new-majority parents. Judging by the poll and focus-group responses, they want their kids held to rigorous standards and expectations, and they’re ready to do their part to prod their children forward. They just want schools to be up to the task at hand.

“Will states and school districts rise to the occasion and build a K-12 public education system designed to address the educational needs of students of color? Or will they shirk their duty … and condemn a majority of public school students to a future with little to no promise?” asks Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference Education Fund, in a report on the poll results.

Read the rest of the story here