Influences of Three Presidents of the United States on Multicultural Education: A Series of Research Studies in Educational Policy

By Baptiste, H. Prentice; Michal, Emil J., Jr. | Multicultural Education, Summer 2004 | Go to article overview

Influences of Three Presidents of the United States on Multicultural Education: A Series of Research Studies in Educational Policy


Baptiste, H. Prentice, Michal, Emil J., Jr., Multicultural Education


Third Installment: Examining Presidents John Quincy Adams, Theodore Roosevelt, and Harry S. Truman

Introduction

The recognition, development and implementation of multicultural education in this country is a relatively new and emerging idea (Apple, 1979; Banks, 1977; Burnett, 1994; Delpit, 1992; Frazier, 1977; Garcia, E, 1994; Grant, 1977; Hunter, 1974; Kallen, 1970; La Belle, 1976; Pai, 1984). Prior to the middle of the previous century, the concept of addressing and providing a meaningful educational experience for all students, including students of color, was non-existent.

In recent years, through the work of numerous educators (Banks, 1993; Banks, J. & Banks, C., 2004; Baptiste, 1979/1986/1994; Bennett, 1995; Boyer & Baptiste, 1996; Garcia, R.L., 1982; Gay, 1988/1994, 2004; Gollnick & Chinn, 1990; Nieto, 1992), not only has the concept of multicultural education begun to become a reality, it has become a driving force in curricular development.

Colleges of education of several major universities, such as the University of Massachusetts, the University of Washington in Seattle, the University of Wisconsin at Madison, the University of Houston, and New Mexico State University are actively engaged in educating students to become multicultural educators (Gay, 1994).

National professional organizations such as the National Council for the Social Studies, the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education and the National Education Association have declared their commitments to multicultural education. In 1990, the National Association for Multicultural Education was formed to further the development of multicultural education (Gay, 1994).

While these efforts by educators are important, the commitment of this country to multicultural education in American schools and on the international scene has not been significant (Spring, 2000). Part of this absence must be attributed to the lack of support and leadership from the President of the United Sates and his administration. Through the policies and actions of each President's individual administration, the role of multicultural education in this country is affected, both positively and negatively. In this paper, three presidents, John Quincy Adams, Theodore Roosevelt, and Harry S. Truman, will be examined as to their roles in multicultural education.

While considering these three men, it may appear that there is no common theme connecting them other than that all of them occupied the office of President of the United States. There are, however, connections that can be made among them. One thread was the political backgrounds of these men. Each would reflect the beginnings, evolution, and change of political parties in this country.

Adams and Roosevelt were both men who did not maintain only one political party affiliation but moved between parties as their consciences and circumstances dictated. Indeed, Adams is listed as belonging to three different parties: Whig, National Republican, and Federalist (Remini, 2002).

Roosevelt, while elected president as a Republican, went on to initiate an entirely new national political party, the Progressive or Bull Moose Party (Auchincloss, 2001). Only Truman maintained a lifelong affiliation with one party, the Democratic Party (McCullough, 1992), as party affiliation had become a dominant theme on the political landscape by the middle of the 20th century.

Another thread to bind these men is their social standing. Both Adams and Roosevelt were products of what would be considered upper-class social status in this country and enjoyed the privileges, perquisites, and advantages of that status (Kunhardt, P., Jr, Kunhardt, P., III, & Kunhardt, P., 1999). Adams came from the rigorous, austere and religious background of New England (Remini, 2002) and Roosevelt from the well-to-do of New York City (Auchincloss, 2001). Again, as a counter point, Truman was from literally middle America, coming from a farm in Kansas (McCullough, 1992). …

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