HOT BLAST: Understanding culture key to teaching
Nov 11, 2013 | 1261 views |  0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ellis Elementary School second-grade teacher Katie Thies speaks with first-grader Izabela Barela in Belleville, Ill. (AP Photo/Belleville News-Democrat, Tim Vizer)
Ellis Elementary School second-grade teacher Katie Thies speaks with first-grader Izabela Barela in Belleville, Ill. (AP Photo/Belleville News-Democrat, Tim Vizer)
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The National Journal takes a look at "the Tucson Unified School District's controversial Mexican-American studies courses shut down in 2011," one that was called "propagandizing and brainwashing" by Arizona's AG.

The program appears to have worked with "the mostly Latino students who took the courses ... 46 percent to 150 percent more likely to graduate from high school than those who did not."

Here's the takeaway by reporter Sophie Quinton:


Culturally responsive teaching often requires confronting some of the most painful divides in American life.

"Basically, it's about effective teaching, but it takes into consideration the changing demographics of America's schools," says Jacqueline Jordan Irvine, professor emeritus of urban education at Atlanta's Emory University. Today, 63 percent of students in the Tucson Unified School District are Latino, up from 49 percent just a decade ago.

Demographic changes have made it increasingly likely that a teacher's experiences don't mirror those of her students. In 2007-08, 83 percent of public school teachers were white, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. During that same year, the demographic breakdown showed a different percentage for public school students: 56 percent white; 21 percent Hispanic; 17 percent African-American, 5 percent Asian, and 1 percent Native American. 

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