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ERIC Number: EJ866732
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 3
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-1066-2847
Take the Initiative
Garcia, Michelle
Teaching Tolerance, n36 p34-36 Fall 2009
There's a lot wrong with the diversity training that goes on in the nation's schools. There are programs that offer shortcuts for communication across racial and ethnic lines, too often drawing on stereotypes rather than challenging them. There are dialogue programs that usher in difficult conversations about racism, prejudice and bias, sometimes opening wounds and creating tensions that leave participants asking, "How did "that" help?" And then there are "feel-good-about-diversity" programs that seem wholly disconnected from the practice and realities of teaching. Lackluster diversity programs aren't limited to in-services, either. A May 2007 survey by Public Agenda found that most new teachers (76 percent) said teaching an ethnically diverse student body was covered in their pre-service training, but less than half said this training helped them "a lot" when they got into actual classrooms. But "something" has to be done, right? The nation's education system has an undeniable problem with race. For decades, white students have enjoyed better academic outcomes than most students of color. A similar gap exists between middle-class students and students who live in poverty. These gaps are measured in test scores and dropout rates, but their impact goes far beyond education statistics, affecting who goes to college and who doesn't, who makes a living wage, who becomes the line worker and who becomes the manager. The "achievement gap," as it's known, is arguably the greatest barrier to true equality in America. This article describes the Teaching Diverse Students Initiative (TDSi) which seeks to empower educators to improve the school experience for children of color. Undertaken by Teaching Tolerance, in partnership with the National Education Association, the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education, prominent scholars and excellent teachers, TDSi offers a suite of free online professional development tools designed to help educators improve their skills in working across lines of race and ethnicity. TDSi is embedded within a larger framework of best practices for teachers. Through the TDSi tools, educators can learn about concepts such as flexible heterogeneous grouping, culturally responsive pedagogy and collaborative problem solving between teachers and administrators. Ideas such as these are central to effective teaching, and they can improve instruction at any school, regardless of its demographic makeup.
Southern Poverty Law Center. 400 Washington Avenue, Montgomery, AL 36104. Tel: 334-956-8200; Fax: 334-956-8484; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A