Culturally Compatible Education Learning
Participants at a Culturally Compatible Education session practice strategies for creating deeper relationships with students and parents.
Try as we might, the system of American education has not succeeded in ensuring that the academic achievement of African Americans, Latino Americans, and American Indian students equals that of White American and Asian American students.
What do these disparities really mean? Some might wonder, if our economy requires “lower skill” industry workers, what does it matter if some students receive a lower quality education and drop out before graduating? Sometimes an assumption is made that certain students just aren’t cut out for academics. But a recent study by AT&T found that many students were not motivated to learn because they didn’t feel engaged by teachers and the curriculum.
First and foremost, American values of fairness dictate that schools provide equal opportunity to academic success every student. But there are more reasons to address the academic disparities. Students who don’t finish high school are less likely to become contributors to society. Recent economic hard times and assistance program cuts have underscored the need for every American to have the skills to be a contributor to society.
- Drop-out rates also vary by ethnic group. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, Latino Americans drop out of high school at a rate of 18.3%; American Indians, 14.6%; African Americans, 9.9%; White Americans, 4.8%; and Asian Americans, 4.4%. Many organizations who focus on this issue estimate that no less than 50% of African Americans and Hispanic Americans in large urban school districts drop out before graduation.
- The Texas Education Agency recently reported a disparity in student disciplinary removals from school. In subjective discipline cases in districts around the state, Black students are removed from school almost three times as often as White students. Hispanic students also are removed more often than White students.
- Nationally, African American students are 33% more likely than White students to be provided special education services.
Jobs that pay a living wage require more than a high school diploma. According to projected population trends, in about 30 years, White Americans will become a minority group in the U.S. As our demographics shift, more and more Latino Americans, American Indians, and African Americans will need to fill leadership
roles to maintain the institutions on which Americans rely for our quality of life.
So it is in all of our best interest to make sure that we understand the reasons why many Latino Americans, African Americans, and American Indians are not fulfilling their academic potential, and to reverse that trend.
One fundamental element that impacts performance is a sense of belonging at school. Longstanding stereotypes often create a sense of alienation for students of color. So educators who pay careful attention to ensuring that their thoughts and behaviors convey a sense of belonging to all students are much more likely to be successful.
The Socha program offers a series of Culturally Compatible Education sessions that engage teachers as they explore these concepts and assist them in applying them to actual classroom scenarios and lessons.
Another significant influence on academic success is the degree of a student’s cultural alignment with mainstream educational culture. While mainstream American educational approaches center on writing, independence, competition, and abstract thinking, education in much of the rest of the world utilizes many of the learning techniques and tools of orality, or oral communication. Read more about how we believe orality affects learning here.
"We had the privilege of having Wordsmooth in the Garland Independent School District during the 2009-10 school year presenting district-wide on the topic of Diversity. The information was so well received across the district that the Special Education Department asked Wordsmooth to create a series of presentations specific to an issue the district has faced for several years, the issue of an over-representation of African American children in special education. Again, these presentations have been exceptionally well received. Long term effects are yet to be measured but feedback from staff has been very positive."
- Susan Faulkner
Director of Special Education
Garland Independent School District
"After attending your workshop, I took detention time to get to know a student who has been difficult, rather than have work for him. I am trying to understand first, then be understood. I'm working on relationshp building in all areas of my life. Less ME, more THEM."
"This session made me aware of how certain behaviors may not be negative, but rather, culturally influenced."
"I am trying to open myself up more by appropriately sharing my thoughts on certain issues that arise during class, and in turn I find that students are informally sharing more with me as well. I think this is helping to build more and stronger interpersonal relationships, which in turn makes the classroom interaction more relevant."
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Causes of the achievement gap
The relevance of diversity
Why the achievement gap matters
Many of the academic disparities between White students and students of color occur before children ever arrive at school.
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