As an African-American woman I deliberate often about diversity. My thoughts about diversity are compounded when I think of the education system. Most notably because of my knowledge that teachers’ lack of competency in teaching culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) learners correlates to students’ persistent achievement difficulties. The data from NCLB indicate that too many of our CLD students are still struggling. I need action!
I am currently an advanced practicum student in a school district that is “grappling” with their diversity “issues” (i.e., disproportionate in special education referral, expulsions, etc.). For the last few years they have been actively working on teacher professional development surrounding culturally responsive teaching/classroom management. Additionally, a group of administrators and support staff (e.g., school psychologist, ELL resource teacher, etc.) are currently participating in a yearlong professional development opportunity through the Department of Instruction. Is this the type of action that I am calling for?
I know that these professional development opportunities are well intentioned, contain evidence-based components, and hence are useful and effective. Ok, perhaps I am not sold on the last part. I am not certain if I believe that a large majority of the teachers and staff “get it,” or ever will. During a staff in-service on Wednesday one teacher completely showed his ignorance and small-mindedness… It was indicative of where some people are!
I ponder everyday if a grown person can learn to accept “others?” Ignorance and racism does not develop overnight. Rather, they are beliefs that a person learns from his/her environment. How does one un-learn?