ERIC Number: ED411332
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1997-Mar
Reference Count: N/A
Community and Diversity in an Urban School: Co-existence or Conflict?
Kratzer, Cindy C.
How one public school used its diversity to foster community, while protecting itself from exclusivity, was studied. This study challenges the assumption that a community-like ethos is impossible in an urban neighborhood public school that has no special admissions requirements. Case study methodology, with almost 250 hours of observation of classes, school activities, faculty meetings, governance council meetings and parent meetings, and semistructured interviews provided a portrait of Jackson Elementary School, part of the Los Angeles (California) Unified School District. In the fall of 1995, at the time of the study, the population of the school was 92.6% Hispanic, and over 95% of the students qualified for free or reduced-price meals. The school operated on a year-round schedule, as it had for more than 15 years. The 1,170 students and 42 teachers were divided into 3 tracks, each of which attended school for 2 months and was off for 1 month. Experiences at Jackson School provide evidence that community and diversity need not be in conflict. At Jackson, the individual was valued and divergent opinions were protected so that people felt less need to defend entrenched positions and more willingness to share. Through the celebration of cultures and the recognition of a plurality of voices, the school used its diversity to help strengthen community. School members were protected from losing their individual identities because of their strong commitment to care for one another and their mutual respect and trust. The freedom that teachers had to teach in the ways they felt best was grounded in the trust that faculty, staff, and parents had for each other. The negative characteristics of community, such as exclusivity or intolerance, were counteracted by trust and respect and the celebration of diversity. (Contains 42 references.) (SLD)
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: California Univ., Los Angeles. Graduate School of Education
Authoring Institution: N/A