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What Are Some Instructional Strategies Recommended by the Scholars to Support Ethnically Diverse Students of Color Whose Native Tongue Is Not Standardized English?

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Students in the United States and its territories come from a large and increasing number of racially, ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse families: diverse students made up 48 percent of the population in 2011, up from 39 percent in 2001. Teachers and school leaders, for the most part, do not reflect that diversity.The contrast in the demographic composition of educators and their students is cause for concern because research shows that students’ race, ethnicity, and cultural background significantly influence their achievement.

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As public intellectuals and agents of change, we recognize that English teachers and teacher educators are complicit in the reproduction of racial and socioeconomic inequality in schools and society. Through critical, self-reflexive practices embedded in our research and our teaching, we can work against racial, cultural, linguistic, and socioeconomic inequalities by creating humane classrooms where students and teachers learn to use language and literacy in critical and empowering ways. Toward these ends, we have assembled a document that states our beliefs and recommendations for action. This document is built upon our values and democratic sensibilities in addition to a generation of literacy research conducted via multiple methods on cultural and linguistic diversity inside and outside of schools. Using the tools of classroom-based research to develop more complex profiles of their students, teachers and teacher educators can use their growing knowledge of the lives and cultures of these students to design appropriate teaching methodologies and curriculum. Developing these tools would require new ways of collecting and analyzing information about students and their families, and then reflecting upon the appropriateness of their curriculum and practices to be more effective educators. Consequently, such investigation would mean using or creating new lenses to interrogate the impact of one’s own teaching and planning

These lenses might involve designing methods for getting ongoing feedback from students and their families and responding to that feedback. Ultimately such reflective work implies that teachers and teacher educators have a right to choose, create, appraise, and critique their own responsive and responsible teaching and learning curriculum. As part of their teacher education, they will need to acknowledge the limits of their personal knowledge as well as experience the privileges afforded them by virtue of their race and class. Part of the curriculum for English educators will involve crossing personal boundaries in order to study, embrace and build understanding of “other.” The purpose of boundary crossing is not to simply have an experience with the “other,” but to use that experience to advocate for the advancement for all. While the stereotypical demographic teacher population of the white, middle-class, female will often have to cross more distinct boundaries, other preservice teachers who are more linguistically, culturally, racially, and socioeconomically aligned with the growing diverse student population will have to engage in “making the strange familiar, and making the familiar strange.” Ultimately, teacher candidates will need to engage in projects that allow them to study their lives as a way to recognize their limits and to complement the work they will do in crossing personal boundaries. This may involve learning language, studying culture, and visiting with students and their families. In short, we can’t do what we’ve always done because we don’t have the same students we had before.

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Not only do funding systems allocate fewer resources to poor urban districts than to their suburban neighbors, but studies consistently show that, within these districts, schools with high concentrations of low-income and “minority” students receive fewer instructional resources than others in the same district. And tracking systems exacerbate these inequalities by segregating many low-income and minority students within schools (Kozol, 1991; Taylor & Piche, 1991). In combination, policies associated with school funding, resource allocations, and tracking leave minority students with fewer and lower-quality books, curriculum materials, laboratories, and computers; significantly larger class sizes; less qualified and experienced teachers; and less access to high-quality curriculum. Because the economy can no longer absorb many unskilled workers at decent wages, lack of education is increasingly linked to crime and welfare dependency. Women who have not finished high school are much more likely than others to be on welfare, while men are much more likely to be in prison. National investments in the last decade have tipped heavily toward incarceration rather than education. Nationwide, during the 1980s, federal, state, and local expenditures for corrections grew by over 900%, and for prosecution and legal services by more than 1000% (Miller, 1997), while prison populations more than doubled (U.S. Department of Commerce, 1996, p. 219). During the same decade, per pupil expenditures for schools grew by only about 26% in real dollar terms, and much less in cities. The situation is worse in some parts of the country. While schools in California have experienced continuous cutbacks over the last decade, the prison population there has increased by more than 300%.

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In conclusion, much of the work in the domain of school, family, and community partnerships has been conducted through a lens of sociology-based variables, and valuable insights have been generated

The finer grain of psychological research and analysis would provide additional depth and specificity as to what would be the most effective transpersonal and intrapersonal factors and practices for undergirding successful school family community collaborative partnerships.

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Miller, J.G. (1997, June). African American males in the criminal justice system. Phi Delta Kappan, pp. K1–K12.

National Assessment of Educational Progress ( 1994). NAEP Trial State Assessment. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education.

Kaufman, J.E., & Rosenbaum, J.E. (1992). Education and employment of low-income black youth in white suburbs. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 14(3), pp.229–240.

Kozol, J. (1991). Savage inequalities. New York: Crown.

Kulik, C.C., & Kulik, J.A. (1982). Effects of ability grouping on secondary school students: A meta-analysis of evaluation findings. American Education Research Journal, 19, pp.415–428.

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