A reader sent me this note after reading the AJC story that more than half of the children under age 2 in the U.S. are now minorities:
Our student demographics will also be majority non white children in 3 years. Can you please post a discussion topic on this? I am interested to hear the opinions of those teachers who think they would only be teaching white students all their lives.
Are there teachers who thought they’d be teaching white students all their lives?
I have interviewed principals and researchers over the years who have said that some white teachers cannot work in an urban school with majority minority students because they are either afraid of the students or unable to relate to them.
And I have friends back in New Jersey who have chosen to teach in parochial schools because they attended Catholic schools and are more at ease in that setting. (But urban parochial schools in New Jersey are not all white and weren’t back when I attended, either.)
But for the most part, I would assume that teachers today expect diverse classrooms. And I would still maintain that it is not racial diversity that challenges teachers, but economic diversity. If you grew up middle class with two parents, I would think that it would be hard to relate to the world of a poor child in a single parent home with few supports.
But I am also assuming that as professionals teachers will adjust to the changing student demographics. I do think, however, that some of the societal shifts — including the rise in single mother households, which typically aligns with higher poverty — put added burdens on schools.
Here is what the story says in part:
Preliminary census estimates also show the share of African-American households headed by women — mostly single mothers — now exceeds African-American households with married couples, reflecting the trend of declining U.S. marriages overall.
The findings, based on the latest government data, offer a preview of final 2010 census results being released this summer that provide detailed breakdowns by age, race and household relationships.
Demographers say the numbers provide the clearest confirmation yet of a changing social order, one in which racial and ethnic minorities will become the U.S. majority by midcentury.
“We’re moving toward an acknowledgment that we’re living in a different world than the 1950s, where married or two-parent heterosexual couples are now no longer the norm for a lot of kids, especially kids of color,” said Laura Speer, coordinator of the Kids Count project for the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog