Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Celebrate the Differences Woodland Hills Principal Shows Grad Students the Need for Multicultural Education

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Celebrate the Differences Woodland Hills Principal Shows Grad Students the Need for Multicultural Education

Article excerpt

The neighbors of "Ellisville" were split over multicultural education. One woman shouted: "I'm an American. That's all that matters!" and "Just say no!" inciting others to chant.

Another woman held aloft a sign bordered with world flags that said "Multicultural Education Opportunities for All." She said she was a poor, single parent who needed the school to bring the world to her children.

Here and there, sharp words, dirty looks and titters flew around the room.

The Ellisville neighbors were actually members of Deborah Vereen's Multicultural Education Theory and Practice class.

Ellisville was named after Ellis Island, the New York landmark where thousands of European immigrants arrived in the early 1900s.

The 24 "Ellisville residents" were graduate students at Seton Hill University where Vereen teaches. Vereen is also the principal at Woodland Hills' Fairless Intermediate School, where 500 youngsters attend fourth, fifth and sixth grades.

On Thursday, Vereen's class simulated a school board session in which the Ellisville five-member board and town residents discussed a plan to include multiculturalism in the school district.

Vereen said the simulation reflected her goal for the four-week class. She wants to send her students out as teachers aware of the core cultural differences among youngsters in the classroom.

Since No Child Left Behind became federal law in 2001, educators have been compelled to recognize that children filter what they learn through their upbringing, language and personal experience, she said. Consequently, multicultural instruction should be considered.

"Not just because of No Child Left Behind, it's also a matter of social justice," Vereen said, adding that failure among children occurs more often among those in poverty. "We need to ensure that all children have an equal opportunity."

Multicultural education is an educational approach that includes curriculum and teaching methods designed to help children appreciate cultural diversity and to recognize the contributions of many cultures. …

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