Race Ethnicity and Gender in the American Education Essay


Schools act as organizations where cultural interaction dominates. They bring together students from different cultural backgrounds (Banks and McGee 20). This paper presents my speech to Kennedy-King Middle School of Long Island New York on race and ethnicity in the American education focusing on critical assessment of how children and adults deal with race and racism from a sociological research perspective. It also discusses with reasons whether educators in the American schools should be held to a higher standard of responsibility in terms of addressing issues of race and racism in relation to a professional in other institutions in the American society.

Race, Ethnicity, and Gender issues at Kennedy-King Middle School of Long Island New York

The school under investigation has a body of racially diverse faculty, staff, and students. In the classrooms, the school has students who speak multiple languages. They come from different nations that have an array of skin colors. While this situation presents a major strength of the school in the effort to foster cultural diversity, it experiences cultural tensions.

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A district audit revealed that students of European and Asian origin were more heavily represented in the gifted and advanced programs. On the other hand, students of African and Latin-American roots predominated in the regular and remedial programs. The audit also revealed imbalances in the degree of discipline distribution. Suspensions and reprimands for behavior among the former group were far less documented compared to the latter.

My Speech at the School’s Faculty and Staff Professional Meeting

It is my pleasure to offer insights on how racial ethnic and gender categorization of children affects their school experience. I recently completed a course on race, ethnicity, and gender in the American education, which addresses aspects that are used in classifying people in a society (Banks and McGee 45). I believe that the acquired skills and knowledge can be instrumental to this school in an effort to foster intercultural understanding among students from different nationality, linguistic, and/or color backgrounds.

Students’ experience in a multicultural community may be extended to schools. Living in a racist community, students may learn to stereotype members of different racial and micro-cultural backgrounds (Ornstein, Levine, and Gutek 92). Indeed, American Anthropological Association maintains that while “constructing US society, leaders among European-Americans fabricated the cultural/behavioral characteristics that are associated with each “race,” thus linking superior traits with Europeans and negative and inferior ones to the blacks and Indians” (par.6).

Banks and McGee reveal that micro-cultures in nations that have people from different diversity background share some common values with a nation or state, although they may be considered alien to it in some situations (9). In school settings, this situation hinders the embracement of diversity and equity (Tozer and Senese 398).

The perception of inconsistency of some people’s culture with core values of a nation may give rise to the current problem that is experienced in this school. Culture is also implicated in an education system (Banks and McGee 28). Thus, it becomes the responsibility of the school’s stakeholders to ensure propagation of the values and ideas concerning people. They should clarify that people are equal, have talents, learn capability, and have knowledge that depends on individual potential, as opposed to racial or cultural backgrounds. This strategy helps in fostering diversity and equity in education (Tozer and Senese 400).

Selection of children for gifted and advanced learning programs is done based on individual learning capabilities. However, it is important for this school to understand that different people have different learning capabilities and styles, which must be incorporated in the selection of children who are scheduled to be incorporated in the gifted and advanced learning programs.

For instance, Ornstein, Levine, and Gutek confirm that Latinos and Africans who have experienced lesser assimilation of their cultures into the American cultural mainstream learn better through group-oriented learning programs (83). This observation may reveal their lesser involvement in gifted and advanced learning programs at this school, especially upon considering it uses the American approach to teaching and learning, which is highly individualistic.

This claim suggests that students encounter challenges within the school that deploys an individualistic model of teaching. Therefore, a possible solution to identify talent and giftedness of African-Americans and Latinos to facilitate their better involvement in gifted and advanced programs at this school involves adopting evidence-based cooperative strategies of teaching (Ornstein, Levine, and Gutek 113).

Children develop their experience in schools depending on the capacity of the education systems to comply with their learning styles. Social science research suggests that learning styles among children also differ based on their gender. For instance, quoting Maher’s research conducted in 1987, Banks and McGee confirm that the inquiry model that is typically deployed in social sciences is mainly ‘male’ in construction (10).

Thus, applying such an approach in the selection of children into gifted and advanced programs translates into less inclusion of some children from the female gender. While resolving this challenge, incorporation of feminist pedagogy in learning in school settings is important.

Banks and McGee inform that the pedagogy considers different assumptions on the nature of any knowledge that is developed in school settings, implying that it translates into different teaching and learning methods (10). For instance, women consider firsthand experience and knowledge developed through observations incredibly appealing to them (Banks and McGee 10).

This situation makes teaching systems dominated by abstract and out-of-context knowledge that is inappropriate for them. Where such approaches are deployed at this school, the problem of imbalances in the degree of discipline distribution becomes inevitable. Indeed, adopting feminist pedagogy is also beneficial to the male gender since it not only helps foster multicultural education at the school, but also ensures the deepening of males’ insights (Banks and McGee 19).

Brulles, Cohn, and Saunders assert that when a school records a high achievement, parents and educators create an assumption that all students, including those who score high grades on various standardized achievement exams, equally learn with those who score low grades (328). Winebrenner suggests that high achievers require curriculum that is more challenging than a standardized one that is used in a given grade level (51).

This strategy underlines the importance of curriculum differentiation, enrichment, and acceleration programs to meet the needs of high achievers as the school upholds. However, in a school of this caliber where ethnic tension dominates, it becomes a challenge, especially because such programs are more likely to be dominated by more European and Asian children than African-American and Latino children. In my opinion, such dominance may create a perception that African-American and Latino children are less gifted compared to the European and Asian children in the school.

Responsibility of the American Educators in addressing Race and Racism

A fundamental way of addressing the challenges of predominance of African-American and Latino students in the remedial and regular programs in Kennedy-King Middle School of Long Island New York entails establishing mentoring programs. Mentoring is one of the crucial aspects of gifted programs, which help unveil hidden gifted potentials among multicultural children (Brulles, Cohn, and Saunders 329).

It requires input from educators in the American schools. Mentoring programs need to clear and separate myths from facts. In the school, it is essential to conduct a mentoring program for teachers with the goal of enabling them identify talented and gifted students in an attempt to seek strategies of their development.

Educators have a high responsibility of addressing racism than professionals in other institutions. It may become hard to clear racial stereotypes when they are acquired at an early age. For instance, Skrla and Scheurich assert that children of color and those from low socio-economic families may suffer from slow thinking, which upon normalization, may result in poor performance in schools (235-236). Directly congruent with this claim, in this school, gifted and advanced learning programs are a reserve of some cultural groups.

The school also documents more suspension and reprimand for behavior among African-Americans and Latinos. Schofield highlights the various challenges that students from some cultural groups encounter (3). According to Schofield, the likely challenge of stereotyping some cultural groups hinders the stereotyped students from unleashing their potential due to the creation of a false perception that academic achievement and behavioral challenges are limited to persons of a particular race (13). To resolve these problems, the school needs effective mentoring programs to demystify this myth, which requires a large input from educators.

Mentoring programs depend on characteristics of their target population. Stanley and Brody confirm this assertion by conducting a research, which identifies various considerations for development of mentoring programs for gifted students (94). The researchers report that gifted student programs need to allow students create connections to normalize their passion, achieve in academics, and/or unlock any academic barrier (Stanley and Brody 95). Creating connections through mentoring plans can help in terms of elimination of stereotyping with reference to academic achievement in an effort to motivate potentially gifted students from African-American and Latino ancestry.

Burton reckons that students (girls and boys) possess several common characteristics akin to similar emotional, cognitive, moral, and social development (203). Within each group, say boys, research evidences that gifted boys also share some common characteristics with other groups of non-gifted boys, although they encounter challenges that stem from their exceptional abilities and personality traits (Winebrenner 43). Educators have the liability to identify these differences to adopt appropriate teaching styles that fit each student.

The above claims suggest that Kennedy-King Middle School of Long Island New York educators needs to adopt and spend time counseling in areas that are relevant to the characteristics of different students, rather than over emphasizing behaviors and intellectual capacity. While addressing counseling to the gifted students, the school needs to focus on specific needs of each group of students. For instance, for gifted males (boys), the counselor needs to engage them in the process of counseling, identify their most preferred media, and adopt appropriate helping styles (Burton 212).

Educators are in charge of early development of knowledge and skills in children. Hence, they also have a responsibility to ensure the development of appropriate behaviors whilst clearing the myth of preferences of defiant behaviors, which lead to suspension and reprimand in schools along racial or ethical differences among children as witnessed in this school.

Works Cited

. Statement on Race, 1998.

Banks, James, and Cherry McGee. Multicultural education: Issues and Perspectives. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Publisher, 2013. Print.

Brulles, Douglas, Stephen Cohn, and Richard Saunders. “Improving Performance for Gifted Students in a Cluster Grouping Model.” Journal for the Education of the Gifted 34.2(2010): 327-350. Print.

Burton, Martins. “Talk is Cheap: Exploring Alternative Strategies for Counseling Gifted Adolescents Males.” Gifted Child Today 35.1(2012): 208-214. Print.

Ornstein, Allan, Daniel Levine, and Gerry Gutek. Foundations of education. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2014. Print.

Schofield, Janet. The Comorbid Perspective in Schools: Causes and Consequences. London: Sage, 2002. Print.

Skrla, Linda, and James Scheurich. “Displacing Deficit Thinking in School District Leadership.” Educations and Urban Society 33.3(2001): 235-259. Print.

Stanley, Johnston, and Lenard Brody. “History and Philosophy of the Talent Search Model.” Gifted and Talented International 16.2(2001): 94-96. Print.

Tozer, Steve, and Guy Senese. School and Society Historical and Contemporary Perspectives. Chapter 13: Diversity and Equity Today: Meeting the Challenge. New York, NY: McGraw Hill, 2005. Print.

Winebrenner, Simon. Teaching Gifted Kids in the Regular Classroom. Minneapolis: Free Spirit Publishing, 2001. Print.

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