Academic journal article Rural Educator

Educating the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Non-Urban Population: Three Cost-Effective Strategies

Academic journal article Rural Educator

Educating the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Non-Urban Population: Three Cost-Effective Strategies

Article excerpt

The number of immigrants who do not speak English proficiently has grown rapidly in American schools. While the immigrant population is growing, the proportion of first and second-generation immigrants (the children of immigrants) is simultaneously multiplying. As the U.S. population grows more varied, public schools are faced with the challenge of meeting the needs of an increasing population of culturally and linguistically diverse students. The researchers propose three cost-effective and closely linked strategies for principals to facilitate the education of the increasingly diverse population in non-urban schools.

Population Changes in Non-Urban Areas

The United States is currently experiencing an influx of immigrants. Citing a 1 998 report on the Federal Interagency Forum on Children and Family Statistics, Shapon-Shevin (2001) noted that one in every three students enrolled in elementary or secondary school at that time had a racial or ethnic minority background. There were approximately 28.4 million foreign bom residents in the U.S. in 2000 accounting for approximately 10% of the population. Ofthat number, 8.6 million of the foreign bom residents were of school age (Rong & Brown, 2002). This number is expected to increase over the next several decades. Compounding the issue is that fact that the proportion of first- and secondgeneration immigrants (the children of immigrants) is simultaneously multiplying. Figure 1 demonstrates the expected changes in the school population from 1990 to the year 2050 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2007).

It is obvious from Figure 1 that the traditional public school population will continue to show a decline in the number of white, non-Hispanic students and will have a major increase in the Hispanic population. Accordingly, the racial, ethnic, cultural and linguistic diversity in the U.S. will continue to grow.

In its summary of the foreign born population, The U.S. Census Bureau reported that between 1990 and 2000 the number of people who spoke a language at home other than English grew from 31.8 million to 44.6 million people (Lollock, 200 1 ) with immigrants constituting nearly half of those individuals. Of those immigrants who speak a language other than English at home, one-fifth speaks English either "not well" or "not at all" (Sahlman, 2004). This discrepancy in English proficiency poses a hardship on communities and transfers over to the public schools (Rong & Brown, 2002).

Likewise, the number of children of immigrants who do not speak English proficiently has also grown. The United States Department of Education reported that between 1990 and 2000 the number of students with limited English skills doubled to five million, which is four times the growth rate for the overall student population (Lollock, 2001). However, the number of teachers capable of instructing students with limited English proficiency has not increased at the same rate (Sahlman, 2004).

As the U.S. population grows more varied, public schools are faced with the challenge of meeting the needs of an increasing population of culturally and linguistically diverse students. Schools in the U.S. are often the first point of contact for new immigrants (Rong & Brown, 2002) as they facilitate immigrants' integration and socialization into American society (Goodwin, 2002). Many immigrants hold education in high esteem as a means to achieve financial success and social advancement (Goodwin, 2002; Schoorman, 2001). For others, contact with schools may be the first experience with formal education (Kurtz-Costes & Pungello, 2000). Unfortunately, the language barrier between these immigrants and the local population hinders the educational achievement of students with limited English proficiency (Sahlman, 2004).

Schools in the United States are faced with philosophical and practical challenges due to the range of racially, ethnically, linguistically, culturally, and socio-economically diverse students, families, and communities that continue to emerge. …

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.