Language and Cultural Diversity in U.S. Schools: Democratic Principles in Action

Language and Cultural Diversity in U.S. Schools: Democratic Principles in Action

Language and Cultural Diversity in U.S. Schools: Democratic Principles in Action

Language and Cultural Diversity in U.S. Schools: Democratic Principles in Action

Synopsis

Diversity is at the heart of today's education debates. Often, school policies and programs designed to encourage and embrace diversity are met with public ire and a deep misunderstanding of how diversity serves learning. This work explains how diversity is an essential element in classroom settings. As children from around the world continue to pour into U. S. classrooms, an understanding of cultural and linguistic diversity in its broadest sense moves to the foreground. In a post 9/11 world, the benefits of understanding diversity take on urgent meaning.

The introdutory chapter, Participating in Democracy Means Participating in Schools, sets the tone for the discussion to follow. As the geographic backgrounds of immigrants becomes increasingly diverse, religion must be added to previous discussions of race, ethnicity, and language. Thus, the need for the public to understand how shifts in population affect schools, makes this work a vital resource for anyone concerned with education today.

Excerpt

… dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal…

These words penned by Abraham Lincoln almost two centuries ago continue to be relevant in public (meaning of the people) schools today. In a democracy such as the United States, we are obligated to consider the concept of equality and to identify and eradicate elements in education that may hinder equality. Over the years we realized that for democracy to function, men could not mean merely some men; it had to mean all men. Thus, slavery was inconsistent with democracy. Sometime later we recognized that men left out a large section of the population. We recognized that sexism was a threat to democracy. But these realizations evolved over time. They were not immediately grasped at the birth of the country.

As the twenty-first century begins to roll by, the hindrances to equality must be examined again. This time, the focus must shift to equality in terms of language and culture. This is the point of this text. As professors of education, our colleagues have dedicated large portions of their lives to the study of schools. We examine the roles of teachers, students, curricula, and other factors in schools. But perhaps more importantly, we examine the role of schools in shaping (and being shaped by) society. With this backdrop, let us begin our examination.

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