Beyond Silenced Voices: Class, Race, and Gender in United States Schools

By Lois Weis; Michelle Fine | Go to book overview

JIM CUMMINS


Chapter Five
Empowering Minority Students:
A Framework for Intervention

During the past twenty years educators in the United States have implemented a series of costly reforms aimed at reversing the pattern of school failure among minority students. These have included compensatory programs at the preschool level, myriad forms of bilingual education programs, the hiring of additional aides and remedial personnel, and the institution of safeguards against discriminatory assessment procedures. Yet the dropout rate among Mexican-American and mainland Puerto Rican students remains between 40 and 50 percent compared to 14 percent for whites and 25 percent for blacks. 1 Similarly, almost a decade after the passage of the nondiscriminatory assessment provision of PL94-142, 2 we find Hispanic students in Texas overrepresented by a factor of 300 percent in the "learning disabilities" category. 3

I have suggested that a major reason previous attempts at educational reform have been unsuccessful is that the relationships between teachers and students and between schools and communities have remained essentially unchanged. The required changes involve personal redefinitions of the way classroom teachers interact with the children and communities they serve. In other words, legislative and policy reforms may be necessary conditions for effective change, but they are not sufficient. Implementation of change is dependent upon the extent to which educators, both collectively and individually, redefine their roles with respect to minority students and communities.

The purpose of this paper is to propose a theoretical framework for examining the types of personal and institutional redefinitions that are required

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