Do you seek own ethnicity in caregivers/schools?

I recently heard of two moms choosing their schools and home caregivers based on matching their own ethnicity.  The schools and caregivers support the home language and offer an understanding of the parents’ traditions. Also at least in one of the cases, the ethnic caregiver is able to make meals from the home country for the family.

I think parents frequently select schools based on religion. Many preschools are associated with churches and are chose by parents accordingly. Also many private elementary and high schools are also specific to a religion, and many parents choose the school for that reason.  They want their religion and their beliefs supported in school.

So the question is: Is it any different to choose a school or caregiver based on ethnic or racial background as opposed to religion (or some other characteristic)?

Does the ethnicity or race of your child’s teacher or caregiver matter to you? Does it matter more when they are younger than when they are older? Is it good to reinforce the family’s ethnicity outside the home or does it lead to less understanding of other cultures? Would you spend extra time or more money to match your child with a school or caregiver of the same ethnicity? Is it wrong to choose a caregiver or school based on ethnicity or race?

22 comments Add your comment


November 19th, 2009
7:20 am

You don’t mention if this friends are from China, India, Italy, or some place other than the US. Although you allude that at least one could be, “Also at least in one of the cases, the ethnic caregiver is able to make meals from the home country for the family.” I think that most of the people using more personal care (rather than daycare) that are from outside the US do seek their ethnic background out. At that point it is about fostering their home country culture in their children.

I think US born parents are more likely to not think in those terms. It also depends on where the parents live. In Metro Atlanta the prospects of multi ethinic caregivers is likely higher than say Omaha.

For private school, I think that some parents may well look to their faith. Although I went to well regarded private school, and there were large groups that were not even Christian in the Christian based school. (It was not my denomination either). I have a Muslim co-worker who went to a Christian school in another country. I think most parents just want to give their children the best education they can period.

I have no data to back this up. It is just personal observation here in Metro Atlanta and in my travels.


November 19th, 2009
7:41 am

As long as they are not a serial killer or a pedophike. ILm good with whomever watches my kids as long as they are good at what they do.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

November 19th, 2009
7:55 am

FCM — they are from foreign countries but are now American citizens.


November 19th, 2009
7:55 am

These topics are getting worse and worse by the day.
All you are going to do today is start another column of race wars……

I’m out!


November 19th, 2009
7:56 am

I am entering carefully today. Thanks Trey for your post ( quote) on Tuesday’s topic that you shared and South GA Mom/Teacher for your Wednesday post. DB..after reading your post yesterday…..I do feel like you often too!

Children emulate what they experience in their continued environment. Whether this be vocabulary
( including pronunciations) , manners, cultural opinions, attitudes towards society and even academics. This is why some of us share that we want our children to SEE us reading and know it is more important the television.

I have friends from various cultures whom I adore. As a parent, we need to determine if the person with whom our children spend a great deal of time will reflect what we want that child to grow up to be. Children are way more astute than pets….hahaha! Although some pets appear more intelligent than some adults! Anyway, I hear things from children everyday that reflect what is going on in their environment…both good and bad. This month, we are talking about FOODS and the children are to tell me their favorite food. I typically get pizza, cheese, pancakes or sandwiches. Yesterday, I got GROUPER. Perhaps this family has a house at the beach? We got a kick out of it!

I do agree that those not from the US may want to retain things that an American school or caregiver may not be able to provide for their child. They want their culture to be remembered. I think this is why some families speak their native language frequently, at home. So the children will retain it.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

November 19th, 2009
7:58 am

JJ — that’s not the intention at all. I just found it interesting that they were making choices by ethnicity. Like I write, you see people choose by religion all the time but I hadn’t really been exposed to people choosing by ethnicity. I guess because in most jobs people try so hard (or at least pretend to try hard) not to choose by race or ethnicity that I’m wondering why this is different. I’m also wondering if it is a trend or has it always been one that I just haven’t been exposed to in the past.

I think a big part of it was the language support — that the schools and caregivers were speaking the home language. I think that’s fascinating.
So it was not my intention to start a race fight –


November 19th, 2009
8:10 am

Theresa- intriguing topic. Our daughter is a product of a multi ethnic (and language background). Our school selection was not so much based on like ethnicity as much as having her in a culturally diverse environment. It was also important to us that Spanish (other language in our home) be a part of the curriculum, as we are trying hard to be a bilingual home, and to instill a love for both Spanish and English in her. These were factors in selecting a preschool. When she was an infant, small toddler (just walking), our concerns when looking for a caregiver were that she be in a safe, nurturing, loving environment, moreso that cultural/ethnic similarities. I think a lot of what kids learn about their culture/ethnicity is nurtured at home. To me, the fun about school is really meeting and getting to know kids who have similarities and differences. It helps kids understand that the world is a big, beautiful place. Different doesn’t always mean wrong, just different! It’s a lesson we hope our little one will take into adulthood.


November 19th, 2009
8:25 am

I’m with Vork on this one..As long as they aren’t child molesters(sp) or killers, I’m fine..My one thing is and I don’t care if they are American or from another country..I want someone that I can understand when they speak..I don’t want a person that mutters or has such an accent that I can’t hear what they say..

I also agree with JJ.. Theresa, you need to get out more and interact with others..


November 19th, 2009
8:37 am

I would say yes.. people do choose caregiver (not sure about school) by ethnicity. I’m Indian and I look for nanny to live in or out for my kid(s). In Indian community, we even look for a caregiver from the same state since we all speak different languages and the food is completely different. We request the caregiver to help out with part or all of the cooking (paid along with caregiving). Part of the reason to get somebody of same ethnicity is somehow we can get a feel of the person better. I have plenty of friends from other culture but its just not easy to find a complete stranger of different ethnicity and trust them. I use babysitter of any ethnicity if its only for 2-3 hours. If its for days and months, I go looking for an Indian lady.

now, having said that, i know an Indian family who had an Argentinian nanny for the longest time. this nanny was AWESOME. she even helped with the prep for cooking.

I don’t know of any Indian schools around here so won’t even comment on if Indians look for Indian school. They do go to classes on weekends to learn Indian language, dance etc.


November 19th, 2009
8:39 am

I don’t think it is so much about ethnicity as it is about values. Children do better with consistency. I want someone teaching my child the same things I am teaching at home (values, beliefs, discipline, etc). Perhaps the people who share the same values and beliefs that I do also happen to share my ethnicity. That would only make sense – birds of a feather, you know. I don’t think it is necessarily a racial thing, but it isn’t really unnatural for people to want to be with others like themselves. That said, I do want my child exposed to other cultures and beliefs, but in a way that allows me to provide guidance when appropriate and necessary.


November 19th, 2009
8:53 am

I amwhite, as is my son. We live in a predominantly black neighborhood. Most of the people who visit our home are black. When my son was very small he would refer to his own color as “yellow” and to his friends as “brown”. I never corrected him as it seemed to be more accurate than black and white anyway.

I have all but adopted a black teenager who watches my son regualarly and my son considers him as a brother.

When it came to choosing a school for my child, I relied heavily on the ajc ultimate school guide. I searched for hours and hours on it. I would look at test scores and passing criteria. At some point, unconsciously, I found myself not even checking the school grades and test scores when the ethnic breakdown was skewed heavily away from caucasion. If you browse through that program it will not take you long to find that schools with very low caucasion enrollment, for the most part, have low test scores. I am not saying that correllation and causation are the same thing. There could be, and likely are, many social and cultural reasons for this. However, I found that as a time saver, I could just throw schools with low caucasion enrollment right out without looking further at other criteria.

In the end, my child attends a school with about a 60% caucasion enrollment.

While ethnicity was not the reason for the choice, the correllation was so strong that ethnicity became the easiest way to browse the computer program.

Interestingly enough, my child has gravitated towards the “brown” children in the school probably due to his home environment. However, parental involvement in the school is very high and there does not seem to be any correllation with test scores within the actual school to ethnicity.


November 19th, 2009
9:35 am

Something tells me you know more than just two.


November 19th, 2009
10:35 am

Of course parents choose schools based on ethnicity. We also choose neighborhoods, churches, etc. Nothing new. Personally, I could care less about the ethnicity regarding a caregiver. My kids have had black, white and hispanic caregivers. All I care about is how well they will take care of my kid. Same for teachers. Can you teach? Great!

@lmno, I’m sure in your research you also found that the communities of these predominantly white schools were in a higher income bracket. The idea that within the black culture academics rank low is a myth that must be stopped. I’ve been teaching many years, and I’ve almost always taught in schools that were 95% or more black. Students that are in lower socio-economic communities don’t have an emphasis on education. There are more African Americans in poverty than white. However, this statement is true for both races. Try searching in some poor, rural white areas of Georgia. I can assure you the test scores won’t be so high. I am surprised that although you say you live in a predominantly black neighborhood, you haven’t taken the time to really get to know your neighbors and understand their views on education.

As an educator, I would never rely heavily on test scores to choose a school. Why? Because cheating happens EVERYWHERE! I like to visit schools in the middle of the day and watch the kids in action. Do I hear yelling, or are kids engaged in instruction? I’ve always been in a unique situation because I have access to teachers that the average parent may not. However, any parent can visit. My son’s school is predominantly black and their test scores are great. He is in the 99th percentile on the ITBS and I attribute much of that to the outstanding teachers that have taught him. PTA meetings are usually full and parents are involved in their child’s education. Too many black schools get a bad rap. It’s time for this to end.


November 19th, 2009
10:44 am

I think this a great topic. When my son was younger instead of sending him to Pre-K in our neighborhood I enrolled him in a Pre-K that was not too far from my job. The reason that I did this was because the daycare in our area was very disorganized and the staff was very unprofessional. It ended up costing more but the experience was great because the center was in a area that was very culturally diverse as well the fact that they dealt with children with special needs.


November 19th, 2009
11:33 am

For me it’s more about the ethenticity of the children. I want my children to be exposed to as many ethenticities as possible. Plus, when it’s a structured school; daycare, preschool, public school, privat school what have you, most of the time the teachers have to adhere to the rules set in place by the organization they work for. However, when the kids were younger and attended an in-home daycare I looked for someone accepting that had a rainbow of children they cared for. I really didn’t care their ethenticity, only their values and morals. I guess… it’s cause my kids are Americans.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

November 19th, 2009
12:05 pm

I have posted a second topic for today about Janet Jackson calling her dad by his first name — people on Atlanta radio are all up in arms about it.


November 19th, 2009
12:07 pm

The ethnic make up of my children’s schools has always been important to me. I want a diverse group of teachers and children so that my children grow up knowing that a cultural, ethnic or racial difference does not “label” the person. The friend or teacher is an individual with all of the good or bad that goes with that. That said, I do expect the caregivers and teachers to be caring and competent.


November 19th, 2009
2:20 pm

Theresa…don’t get bummed about your choice of topics. I enjoyed this topic as I live it each day with the various schools I visit. Gwinnett County GA is not the same as it was 20 years ago and it is interesting to observe the changes rippling through various areas.

No one can think of astoundingly creative things ( that appeal to all readers) every day. It does not look like the second topic has had many bites either. Maybe folks check in first thing in the morning and it will resume when the get home tonight…who knows?


November 20th, 2009
6:53 am

Bless your heart, Teresa, of COURSE they do. Just as bosses, for years, have tended to hire and promote employees who look like them, including genitalia.

We tend to claim we do it because of proximity (the school is in the neighborhood, etc) but we prefer to be around people we judge to be like ourselves. Even poorer people don’t generally seek out people who are several social classes “above” them.

I’d like to think our children are getting beyond some of that. My children are much more multi-cultural, probably as a result of growing up in 2 university towns on 2 university campuses with the attendant exposure to “different people.”


November 20th, 2009
10:38 am

” Try searching in some poor, rural white areas of Georgia. I can assure you the test scores won’t be so high. I am surprised that although you say you live in a predominantly black neighborhood, you haven’t taken the time to really get to know your neighbors and understand their views on education.”

I realize that you probably won’t see this, but your reading comprehension could use some work. I clearly stated that I didn’t believe that causation and correlation are the same thing. I also stated that there are more than likely numerous reasons for the correlation. (Income is obvious) I also stated that the majority of the visitors to my home are black. I know my neighbors quite well. In fact, I know most of them too well. My house is like a sitcom with all of the neighbors and characters who are dropping in everyday.


November 20th, 2009
2:34 pm

This may be slightly off topic but I have a friend whose co-worker is Indian. They were looking for someone to care for their children in-home. They specifically chose a Latina and directed her to only speak to the kids in Spanish. The parents would speak to the kids in their native language and in English. I believe the parents had great foresight in allowing their kids to be more diverse in the future.


November 24th, 2009
9:49 am

“While ethnicity was not the reason for the choice, the correllation was so strong that ethnicity became the easiest way to browse the computer program.”

Perhaps it is your reading comprehension level (or writing skills) that needs to be addressed. And for the record, having black friends doesn’t mean a thing. You only know your black friends as well as they allow you to know them. Until you’ve walked in my shoes…read into that whatever you choose.