Handbook of Schooling in Urban America

By Stanley William Rothstein | Go to book overview
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13
How Does the Culture of the Teacher
Shape the Classroom Experience of
Latino Students?: The Unexamined
Question in Critical Pedagogy

Antonia Darder

Much has been written during the last three decades regarding the conditions that Latino students face in public schools. A variety of studies have explored issues related to culture, cognition, learning styles, language differences, bicultural development, multicultural curriculum, and various educational approaches and their impact upon these students. But despite all the talk about cultural differences and the need to develop educational strategies that will ensure the educational achievement of Latino students, no research has specifically examined the manner in which the teacher's culture might impact the academic development and social empowerment of students in the Latino community.

The question of the teacher's culture is a particularly salient one, given the current rapid shifts in demographics sweeping this country. School districts in all major urban centers in the United States are experiencing dramatic changes in the cultural composition of their student populations. As a consequence, students of color now constitute the majority population in twenty-three of the nation's twenty-five largest school districts. Despite this reality, the majority of the teachers in these school districts are still white (Gay, 1989).

Even more disturbing are studies that show a decline in the number of teachers of color entering the field. In a report entitled Education That Works: An Action Plan for the Education of Minorities ( 1990) prepared by the Quality Education for Minorities Project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the current situation was described in the following manner:

Over the next decade, when minority student population [nationally] in schools will exceed the present 30 percent and will approach 50 percent in most urban areas, minority teachers are expected to decline from the current 10 percent of the overall teacher workforce to just 5 percent. Fewer than 8 percent of the students in teacher preparation programs are minority, and this pool is likely to be cut in half by the candidate's subsequent failure to pass teacher competency tests required for licensing in most states. To achieve parity

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