Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Professional Ethical Obligations for Multicultural Education and Implications for Educators

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Professional Ethical Obligations for Multicultural Education and Implications for Educators

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Anyone who works in the field of intercultural relations knows how often in his community he hears the remark, "There is no problem." Parents, teachers, public officials, police, community leaders seem unaware of the undercurrents of friction and hostility. Until or unless violence breaks out "there is no problem."

Gordon W. Allport (1954, p. 502)

In his groundbreaking work on prejudice, Allport (1954) captures what may be a prevailing idea among many stakeholders in public schools, and with convincing reason. Although the country is becoming less White each year, in some parts of the United States, including areas within the Pacific Northwest, the percentage of non-White population growth remains small (Vestal, 2008). In schools that serve a primarily homogenous, White population, the need by educators to develop and strengthen multicultural education may be diminished. This contention is supported by Nieto and Bode (2008), who present comments made by educators about multicultural education. One cited educator states, "We don't need multicultural education here; most of our students are White" (p. 42). Another notes, "I want to include multicultural education in my curriculum, but there's just no time for it" (p. 43). Shortly after President Barack Obama's election in November, 2008, Associated Press reporter, Jesse Washington pointed out, "From California to Maine, police have documented a range of alleged crimes, from vandalism and vague threats to at least one physical attack. Insults and taunts have been delivered by adults, college students and second-graders" (p. A4). Even more disquieting was a recent in-depth, lead newspaper story proclaiming, "There's also been a spike in racist activity and hate crimes in Spokane and other Pacific Northwest communities--indeed, almost everywhere in the United States" Morlin (February 7, 2010, p. A1). These comments and reports, combined with the lack of diversity in some sections of the country, prompted researchers conducting this study to consider whether Allport's 1954 assertion there is no problem until or unless an act of violence breaks out rings true today.

The purpose of this study was to explore educator perceptions about multicultural education using data collected from a predominately, White, homogenous region of the United States. Four primary questions guided the research. In a region where diversity in terms of race and cultural backgrounds is considered negligible: 1) How do educators conceptualize multicultural education; 2) To what degree are educators concerned about developing a commitment to multicultural education; 3) What challenges do educators face in putting multicultural education into practice; and 4) What professional ethical obligations, if any, do educational leaders have in learning about, promoting, and embracing multicultural education and multicultural schools?

REVIEW OF RELEVANT LITERATURE

The review of relevant literature is organized around three areas of inquiry: 1) What is multicultural education; 2) Why should educators be concerned about developing a commitment to multicultural education; and 3) What professional ethical obligations do educational leaders have in learning about, promoting, and embracing multicultural education and multicultural schools?

Multicultural Education Defined

According to Tiedt and Tiedt (2010), the term multicultural education was used for the first time as a topic heading by Education Index in 1978. As they point out, this was close to the same period the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) included multicultural education as one of its standards. The term has been defined in various ways since it was first introduced.

Banks (1996) defines multicultural education as "a field of study and an emerging discipline whose major aim is to create equal opportunities for students from diverse racial, ethnic, social class, and cultural groups" (p. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.