Are Schools Failing Because They Are Not Multicultural Enough?

Classroom photo via Shutterstock

If you’re the principal of a failing school where is the best place to focus your energies? Logic would dictate that you’d focus like a laser on reading, writing, math, science, etc. Since that makes perfectly good sense you can be sure it’s not happening. In Portland, Oregon they think fixing “white privilege” will solve their problems.

Verenice Gutierrez picks up on the subtle language of racism every day.

Take the peanut butter sandwich, a seemingly innocent example a teacher used in a lesson last school year.

“What about Somali or Hispanic students, who might not eat sandwiches?” says Gutierrez, principal at Harvey Scott K-8 School, a diverse school of 500 students in Northeast Portland’s Cully neighborhood.

“Another way would be to say: ‘Americans eat peanut butter and jelly, do you have anything like that?’ Let them tell you. Maybe they eat torta. Or pita.”

Guitierrez, along with all of Portland Public Schools’ principals, will start the new school year off this week by drilling in on the language of “Courageous Conversations,” the district-wide equity training being implemented in every building in phases during the past few years.

Through intensive staff trainings, frequent staff meetings, classroom observations and other initiatives, the premise is that if educators can understand their own “white privilege,” then they can change their teaching practices to boost minority students’ performance.

Gutierrez’s school is in the bottom 15% of schools in the district. You know what would really give those poor brown and black students a real chance?

A voucher to go to the school of their choice.

Via Chirs Short

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