Class, Culture, and Race in American Schools: A Handbook

Class, Culture, and Race in American Schools: A Handbook

Class, Culture, and Race in American Schools: A Handbook

Class, Culture, and Race in American Schools: A Handbook

Synopsis

Class, culture, and race have influenced the educational experiences of children for centuries. As the demography of the United States shifts to create an even more diverse society, socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic issues gain growing importance to schooling in America. This reference work explores the critical importance of these issues to American schooling and employs historical, anthropological, sociological, and theoretical perspectives to provide an overview.

Excerpt

Class, culture, and race have influenced the educational experiences of children for centuries. Yet definitions of these terms and theoretical perspectives have been shrouded in confusion and ideological assertions. With the coming to the United States of another wave of immigration from Latin America and Asia, public schools are faced with a challenge and a crisis: educating children who are from a culture of poverty. Such a culture flourishes in the modern world, where a cash economy, the wage labor system, and production for profit predominate. This culture of poverty generates persistently high levels of unemployment for unskilled labor, making it difficult for families to function effectively in American cities and for students to succeed in public schools. the failure to provide educational, political, and economic organizations for the millions of Hispanics, poor Asians, and African Americans migrating to and living in our inner cities has meant their continued existence in this culture of poverty. the values of American life have stressed that everyone can do better if they try, if they work hard and save their money. Thus poverty, illiteracy, and its culture have been explained as a consequence of the personal inadequacy and inferiority of individuals and groups.

The culture of poverty is an adaptation and a response of the poor and the culturally and racially different to their marginal positions in American society. Its effects on the children are generational, being passed on through the language and value systems of families. the basic values and attitudes of this culture of poverty make it psychologically difficult for children to take advantage of schools. Life experiences on the streets may cut short the childhood of the poor, initiating them into sexual relations, drug addiction, and gang activities. These, in turn, may affect youngsters' abilities to learn in schools that are often not as accepting as they might be.

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