Sunday, May 26, 2013

Diversity in Schools: Closing racial and economic achievement gaps

With recent classroom discussion about economic and education disparities, we compared North Shore suburbs with other towns on the Union Pacific West line. There are inherent gaps within our education system. First, According to the National Journal 2012: “White and Asian-American students graduated at a higher rate in nearly every state across the U.S. compared with black and Hispanic…according to preliminary data released by the Education Department.” Latinas earn 56 cents, blacks earn 75 cents for every dollar white men earn. In 2002, the median household income for whites was $44,964, compared with $29,177 for blacks. The poverty rate for blacks is almost triple that of whites.

It is vital for our education system to prioritize closing these gaps a goal because of the benefits that stem from diversity. Coming from New Trier, we are incredibly blessed to attend such a prestigious public high school. On the other hand, there is little diversity which may be harmful to our education.. Research has established that diverse educational environments benefit students academically, as well as in the development of social understanding and skills. When you bring people together to learn, not only are you creating a marketplace of ideas, but also you are allowing people of all different racial or socioeconomic backgrounds to bring their own perspective to a learning environment. This is beneficial in several ways.
A large national longitudinal study involving 25,000 undergraduates attending 217 four-year colleges and universities showed that students who interacted with racially and ethnically diverse peers showed the greatest ‘engagement in active thinking, growth in intellectual engagement and motivation, and growth in intellectual and academic skills. This is important for education because critical thinking is the most important skill students can use in the workplace. Second, According to a study from the University of Michigan democratic citizenship is “strengthened when undergraduates understand and experience social connections with those outside of their [own social economic group].” Third, the Center for American Progress states 85% of 321 large global enterprises “strongly agreed that diversity is crucial to fostering innovation in the workplace.”

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