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Last Updated: 02/01/2018

Cultural Issues and Diversity

Choose a topic below for more information.


Featured Resource


National Center for Culturally Responsive Educational Systems - Provides technical assistance and professional development to close the achievement gap between students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and their peers, and reduce inappropriate referrals to special education. Targets improvements in culturally responsive practices, early intervention, literacy, and positive behavioral supports. The Web site provides links and resources regarding culturally responsive educational systems.


Links4Youth - A community service project created for the purpose of providing a valuable service to youth, this website was designed as a pathway for students, and in some cases parents, to access information that will provide guidance, support and overall enrichment to youth as they develop from an educational, cultural and civic dimension.

Articles      (top)


Behind Burqa, Student Gets an Education in Bigotry - As a white suburban teen of Italian and Irish descent, Caitlin Dean volunteered to wear traditional Muslim clothing to school for an entire day in February after a Middle Eastern Studies teacher announced that she was looking for students to promote her class by wearing the garb. Caitlin covered herself with a periwinkle burqa which concealed her face. The hateful and abusive comments she endured that day horrified teachers, the teen and many of her classmates.

For Black Students, Single Essay Made Big Difference - The seventh-graders were asked to write an essay about their most important value. "My friends give me companionship and courage," a girl wrote. "I'm a great athlete," offered a boy. "God is the answer to everything," wrote another.


Need to Learn English in School? Follow the Yellow Brick Road - Immigrant students arrived at I.S. 223 in Brooklyn, NY, talking 24 different languages and not knowing a soul. About the only thing they shared was a shyness of speaking English aloud. First-year teacher Diana Senechal figured, what better way to give them confidence than to have them sing and dance in an hour-and-a-half-long musical, for three performances at the end of the school year, in the big auditorium, before a thousand strangers.


Bridging the Widest Gap: Raising the Achievement of Black Boys - Black boys spend more time in special education, spend less time in advanced placement or college prep courses, and receive more disciplinary suspensions and expulsions than any other group in U.S. schools today. In many cases, a debilitating combination of inadequate resources and low expectations in schools that serve large numbers of black boys results in this group being held back, researchers say.


Poor Health Habits Reason For Grade Gap - Obesity, poor nutrition and lack of physical fitness may partially explain why Hispanic and American Indian students in New Mexico don’t perform as well as their Anglo peers. Recently released data from Harvard University’s School of Public Health found a strong correlation between poor nutrition and health and low achievement, state Secretary of Education Veronica García told a group of teachers in Santa Fe.

Black Parents Tackle a Gap - Aisha Tomlinson is a receptionist living in Harlem, but she parents her two young daughters like a professional in the suburbs. Tomlinson acknowledges that she was not always so involved, though, and she regrets leaving the education of her 18-year-old son entirely in the hands of the public schools he attended. She thought only prosperous parents had the time and ability to navigate a school system -- until last school year, when Harlem educators taught her how to do the same.


The Massive Failure of Black Males in the American Education System - The problem of Black male failure in education and the corresponding issue of high unemployment for Black youth are huge and complex, but they are still solvable. This may not be the case in 10 to 15 years.


NC Parents Decry Inner-city Schools - They say educational quality suffers in high-poverty CMS areas Frustrated black parents complained Saturday that their children are getting a second-rate education in inner-city schools that are filled with students from poor families.


PA Principal Getting Results in a Struggling School - Claudia Cream, in her third year as Parkside's principal, has sought to boost student achievement by instilling ethnic pride, setting high standards, and imposing strict discipline. "Children seem to thrive when they realize they come from greatness," she said. "I give them a sense of who they are." The efforts are producing improvements at Parkside, once the lowest-performing elementary school in the nearly 18,000-student Camden system.


MI Mays Founder Plans Expansion - Founder of all-boys academy expects to offer classes through 12th grade by 2006.


No Black-White Test-Score Gap at Age 4, But It Appears After Children Enter School - African American children and white children from similar family backgrounds who entered kindergarten in 1998 began school with approximately the same test scores. This striking finding is drawn from the national Early Childhood Longitudinal Study. But by the end of first grade African American children have lost ground to comparable white children. The authors find no evidence that slippage occurs over the summertime, an oft-offered explanation for the test-score gap. Nor are differences in family background the likely cause. Instead, it appears that the cause is within the schoolhouse.


Immigrants' Kids: Nation's Brainy Superstars - Give us your tired, your poor...your scientists and your mathematicians. The children of immigrants are becoming the top math and science students in the United States, dominating academic competitions and representing the strongest hope the nation has of keeping an edge in high-tech and biomedical fields, according to a study released Monday.


Website Opens up Internet to Black Students - Karnita Dumas and Christopher Emile laughed in delight at the animation that appeared on the website: black and brown children reading books, dancing and painting -- the same things they like to do.


VA Norfolk, a Blueprint for Narrowing the Gap - In virtually every grade and subject, Norfolk, Va., schools have markedly narrowed the gap between black and white student performance on state tests. Norfolk's numbers are particularly noteworthy given the district's demographics. Two-thirds of the students are African-American. Sixty percent are low-income.


ASA Launches Spanish Section on its Website - The Autism Society of America (ASA) today announces the launch of a Spanish-language section on its award-winning Web site, responding to the ever-growing needs of the Hispanic community to deliver bi-lingual information on autism spectrum disorders.


FL In This Florida District Diversity Hasn't Reached the Principal's Office - In Florida's giant Broward County school district, only 10 school principals are Hispanic. That's 6 percent, compared with nearly one in four students. Even as the county rapidly grows more diverse, school administrators are still mostly white non-Hispanics--and their grip on the principal's office can be damaging, Hispanic parents say.


Brown v. Board of Education - It was the first item listed on the docket for the U.S. Supreme Court’s October 1953 term. Ostensibly it was about the right of a black girl to attend a newer, all-white school only seven blocks from her home instead of an older, all-black school more than a mile away. But Brown v. Board of Education, as the case came to be known, was always about much more than that. At its core was whether state governments could claim the right to sustain “separate but equal” schools and other public facilities, segregating black Americans into a world of far less opportunity and denying them full participation in American life.


U.S. Hip Hop Takes a Hit - Black women are starting to fight rap's degrading images. You never know in America. Just when you think something bad is going to go on far longer than it should, signs of its being brought to a sudden halt appear. Nelly, a rapper from St. Louis who is notorious for his hedonistic rap videos and dehumanizing images of black women, has been stopped in his tracks by a group of concerned young women from Spelman College and young men from Morehouse College, two historically black schools in Atlanta.


Craving a Taste of Their Heritage - Black students attending historically white institutions are finding a sense of belonging through an exchange program at Howard University.


IA City Outlines Strategies to Close Learning Gap - A high school counselor once told Robert Smith he would have to work much harder than his white peers to achieve the same things throughout his life. Smith, who is African American, took those words with him from a low-income, one-parent home in Dallas, Texas, to college at the University of Iowa. He carried the same message to the State Board of Education on Friday.


OH Black Students Disciplined More - Black students are still more likely than white students to be disciplined at school--three decades after American education documented the disparity. Three-fourths of 40 Southwest Ohio school districts disciplined African-Americans at higher rates than whites last year, an Enquirer analysis of school discipline data shows. In more than half of schools, blacks were twice as likely to be suspended and sent home for at least one day.


U.S. Paige Outlines No Child Left Behind Act's "Ten Key Benefits for Parents of English Language Learners" - U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige and Deputy Under Secretary of Education Maria Hernandez Ferrier today kicked off the department's second annual summit on English language acquisition by unveiling a new initiative to help parents play a more active role in their child's education.


WGBH's Media Access Group Launches Spanish Web Site for Individuals with Hearing and Visual Disabilities - Media Access Group Also Providing Spanish Captioning for 60 Minutes and 60 Minutes II.


Commentary: Class is the Real Issue in Schools - Proposal to stop racial stats could refocus assistance.


What Black Parents Must do now ... - As the black parent of a teenager, I share the recently publicized pain of some black high school parents in Shaker Heights, an affluent suburb of Cleveland.


MI High-achieving Districts are Failing Their Minority Students - For years the state has been reporting on pupil achievement in local school districts, and for years the story has remained the same.


U.S. Full Text of U.S. Supreme Court Rulings: U of M Cases - (PDF documents) Links to the full text of the U.S. Supreme Court rulings in the two University of Michigan affirmative action cases: Grutter v. Bollinger: Law School policy upheld, 5-4; Gratz v. Bollinger: Literature, Science and the Arts policy overturned, 6-3


MI State Board Charges Into American Indian Mascot/Logo Issue - In a resolution adopted unanimously, the State Board of Education today strongly recommended the “elimination of American Indian mascots, nicknames, logos, fight songs, insignias, antics and team descriptions by all Michigan schools” and directed that the resolution be sent to the Governor, all legislators and all school districts.


Building Community Amid Growing Diversity - In this article in Principal Leadership, two middle grades teachers in describe their involvement in a system-wide effort to cope with a rapid influx of Hispanics and Somali Muslims. Includes sample activities.


Who Benefits from Failing Urban School Districts? An Essay on Equity and Justice for Diverse Children in Urban Poverty


Whites Swim in Racial Preference - Ask a fish what water is and you'll get no answer. Even if fish were capable of speech, they would likely have no explanation for the element they swim in every minute of every day of their lives. Water simply is. Fish take it for granted.


Parental Involvement in Migrant Education is at Home, Not at School


Minority Children With Disabilities Will Be Harmed In Disproportionate Numbers if IDEA’s Discipline Safeguards Are Reduced or Eliminated


Failure Starts Young - A school is for: a) diversity; b) learning to read?


Free Handbook Empowers Parents of African American Children with LD


Truth in Labeling - When it comes to special ed and African-American kids, it's time for... Truth in Labeling.


CA Latino parents' group honored for San Jose school's improvement


Equity and Opportunity: Profoundly Multicultural Questions - We must address the deeply ingrained inequities of today's schools by asking difficult questions related to equity and access.

TX Texas schools' 10% solution: Alternative to affirmative action under scrutiny


MA Parents Learn English, So They Can Help Their Children


'His Name Is Michael' - This is a true story—one that both haunts and inspires me. I wish I could say that the names have been changed to protect the innocent. The names were changed, but, sadly, no one was protected.


MI Group Tackles Tough Diversity Issues - Educators and community members in the Walled Lake Schools area have learned that helping parents navigate cultural differences can help students as well.


NV Parent School Partnership: Group seeks expansion of program - Effort teaches Hispanics about school system.


Racial Inequity in Special Education - A Shocking Trend in our Nation's Public Schools.


Culture of Achievement - "They flocked to meetings, meet-the-teacher nights, bake sales and assemblies." The school was far more successful than its geographical and socioeconomic neighbors.


MD Schools chief aiming to cut minority gap - Superintendent makes raising black students' achievement a priority; 'Disparities ... will be eliminated'; Smith's push, programs earn praise from parents and community leaders.


CA Los Angeles Unified School District Spotlights Sylmar's Success - For Sylmar Elementary School Principal Yolanda Guerra, the key to the double-digit improvements in her students' Stanford 9 test scores is teamwork -- among teachers, with parents and in a new cross-over curriculum.

MI Summit: Make education everyone's business - Leaders offer ways to reduce illiteracy, joblessness, crime.


OH Task force plan focuses on education barriers - The Ohio Commission on Hispanic/Latino Affairs report is aimed at defining the problems in educating the state's rapidly growing Hispanic population and proposing solutions to legislators and Gov. Bob Taft.  


MI Education summit set to tackle urban ills - Nationally known figures to convene at State Theatre.


Exit Tests Hurt At-Risk Students - Report: Dropout Rates Could Increase for Poor, Minorities.


It Shouldn't Be Good to Have It Bad - At UC Berkeley, where I teach, we are awaiting the arrival of the first freshman class selected under a revised admissions policy for the University of California schools. All applicants are being evaluated according to whether they have survived "hardships," with those who have done so netting extra points.


Education gap tops agenda at Hispanic conference - Hispanics must convince the rest of the nation it is crucial to the prosperity of the United States that Hispanic children get an education, a national Hispanic leader said Saturday at a conference here.


Latino Group Bridges the Barriers of Autism - Support: After son's diagnosis, couple found little data in Spanish. Now they share facts.


Macho or Sweetness? Why Immigrant Girls Succeed - This is no aberration. Immigrant girls consistently outperform boys, according to the preliminary findings of a just-completed, five-year study of immigrant children -- the largest of its kind, including Latino, Chinese and Haitian kids.


Websites & Other Internet Resources      (top)

Teaching Diverse Learners - This Web site is dedicated to enhancing the capacity of teachers to work effectively and equitably with English language learners. It includes information on: teaching and learning strategies on culturally responsive teaching, mainstream classrooms, bilingual/ESL classrooms, and special education; strategies for performance and student assessment; organizations that may be useful to teachers of language minority students; and funding opportunities and grants for teaching English language learners.


Proyecto Vision: The First National Technical Assistance Center for Latinos with Disabilities - The World Institute On Disabilities has launched this program to address the lack of outreach to Latinos and to also assist Latinos with accessing critical services that lead to employment. Proyecto Vision is funded by a five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education Rehabilitation Services Administration. Through the program, disabled Latinos will be able to access employment information through a toll-free hotline that provides bilingual technical assistance and also through a bilingual listserv. Additionally, there will be opportunities to participate in annual employment-based regional conferences and in leadership development activities. Partners in the project include the Inter-American Institute on Disability, the Harlam Independent Living Center, Houston’s Southwestern Regional Disability Business Technical Assistance Center, The Central Coast Center for Independent Living in Salinas, California, and Rehabilitation International.  More information is available at the Center’s website at or via their Bilingual toll-free hotline (866) 367-5361.

Hispanic Outreach Initiative and Online Spanish-Language Resources - Using a variety and language and
culture-sensitive materials, the National PTA Hispanic Outreach Initiative will reach out to Spanish-speaking parents who wish to become more involved in their child's education.


Disability & Culturally Diverse or Religious Organization Links      (top)


Bureau of Indian Affairs, Department of the Interior
1849 C St., NW
Washington, DC 20240 202-219-4150

National Alliance of Black School Educators
2816 Georgia Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20001

National Association for Bilingual Education
1220 L St. NW, Ste. 605
Washington, DC 20005-4018

National Indian Education Association
121 Oronoco St
Alexandria, VA 22314


MELD: Programs to Strengthen Families (MELD)
MELD provides parenting education models for nine parenting populations, including African American parents, Latino parents, and young fathers. MELD's programs serve parents in more than 70 communities and several statewide networks. MELD provides specialized training curricula, offers training to trainers and community organizations across the country, and provides parenting education materials for parents with lower reading levels.

National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA)
The National Indian Child Welfare Association is the only Native American organization focused specifically on issues of child abuse and neglect and Tribal capacity to prevent and respond effectively to these problems. NICWA is a membership organization of Tribes, individuals, and private organizations concerned with Indian child and family issues. NICWA primarily focuses on fostering information exchange and community and public policy development for the defense of the Indian Child Welfare Act. NICWA sponsors a national conference; provides publications and information packets and technical assistance; and maintains a library for information on child welfare and child abuse and neglect that is culturally relevant and useful to the American Indian population.

The JCC of Metropolitan Detroit, a constituent agency of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, has two locations in suburban Detroit--Oak Park and West Bloomfield. Each facility provides a place for people of all ages with a place to socialize, participate in sports and recreation, receive a quality Jewish education, attend a variety cultural events and more. Whether you want to work out, attend a cultural event, spend quality time with your family or celebrate a holiday, the JCC has programs for all ages and interests. Our two locations are in the heart of your neighborhood.

English Language Learners/English as a Second Language (ELL/ESL)      (top)


Also See IEP Issues - Bilingual Issues & ESL


Help! They Don't Speak English Starter Kit for Primary Teachers - A free, downloadable resource guide for educators of limited English proficient students, grades Pre-K - 6. The first Help! They Don't Speak English Starter Kit was produced in 1989 by a task force of Virginia migrant educators who were getting an increasing number of requests from classroom teachers for information about and assistance with their limited English proficient (LEP) students. The Help! Kit has proved to be an excellent resource for teachers who are seeking ideas for recommended teaching strategies, lesson plans, and materials.

If Your Child Learns In Two Languages: A Parent's Guide - A parent's guide for improving educational opportunities for children acquiring English as a second language. Available in PDF format in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese and Haitian Creole.


AZ Online Class Makes Learning English Easier - Learning English has just gotten a lot easier for non-native speakers in the Las Vegas Valley.


The World of Immigrant Students - Although eight languages --Spanish, Vietnamese, Hmong, Cantonese, Cambodian, Korean, Laotian, and Navajo -- comprise 85% of linguistic diversity, 350 language groups are actually spoken in U.S. school districts. Meeting the needs of these students challenges many areas of a school system. In this article, Judy Smith-Davis outlines a set of best practices and a wealth of Web resources to help educators meet this challenge and serve this population of students.


Read the article from Education Week "Early Bilingual Programs Found To Boost Test Scores"

Developing IEPs for English Language Learners
Rita Brusca-Vega, Ed.D., Professor of Special Education, Chicago State University
The purpose of this chapter is to present several sample IEPs, based on the best practices described in the resource book, for students of different ages, cultural and linguistic backgrounds, English language proficiency levels, and type of disability.  Includes sample IEP goals.


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