Somewhat surprisingly, Latino students enrolled in schools with more Latino kids were more likely to perceive discrimination than Latino students in the other schools, although this effect was moderated by teachers who valued diversity. The study controlled for socio-economics, so poverty was excluded as a cause of this belief.
Decoded Science asked Dr. Brown about this, and she explained that, “Those children … who attended a mostly minority school, were more aware of all kinds of discrimination, from peers, from teachers, and from the community. This was especially true if their school seemed to ignore their diverse backgrounds. It seems to be that disconnect that affects kids. They are aware of being an ethnic minority at a school with many kids similar to them, but the school seems to devalue it. That disconnect, from what they see and what they school values, seems to make children acutely aware of discrimination.”
Dr. Brown also told Decoded Science that she believes “these findings are applicable to cities and regions that traditionally have been White and African American and are seeing a somewhat recent influx of Latino immigrants. In those areas, teachers are often not used to having English Language Learners in their classrooms and may be unfamiliar with the cultural backgrounds of their students.”
Ethnic Diversity and School Improvements: The Implications
Training teachers to be open and positive about ethnic diversity is a small investment that appears to have a big pay off, a golden equation in this era of belt tightening.
Brown, C.S., and Chu, H. Discrimination, Ethnic Identity, and Academic Outcomes of Mexican Immigrant Children: The Importance of School Context. Child Development, Volume 83, Issue 5, pp. 1477-1485, September/October 2012. Accessed September 12, 2012.
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