The United States has a rich history of migration, from involuntary immigration resulting from the slave trade to the waves of immigrants who sought a new life on its shores. Partly due to the legislative changes in immigration policy in the last quarter of the 20th century, the cultural and linguistic diversity of the immigrant population has made the country more diverse. These demographic shifts affect schools across sectors in the United States—public and private, secular and religious—and across all geographical settings from urban to suburban to rural. Different immigrant groups have faced prejudice and marginalization, which have cemented cycles of socioeconomic disadvantage and persistent barriers to integration. Immigrant students tend to be disproportionately distributed across schools and are highly concentrated in schools with large numbers of students who are socioeconomically disadvantaged. In tandem, educational policy prioritizes social efficiency (moving immigrant students into the workforce) instead of social mobility (advancing to higher education). The growing knowledge base that is centered on effective approaches to providing equitable opportunities to learn has identified three axes for action: (a) promoting students’ sociocultural integration, (b) cultivating their language proficiency, and (c) supporting their academic achievement. School reforms supporting these axes include the promotion of bilingual education, integration of immigrant students into schools, and advancement of authentic partnerships with families and communities.
Cultural and Linguistic Diversity in School Reform
Martin Scanlan, Francesca López, Maria Baez-Cruz, and Tsuru Bailey-Jones
Resource Pedagogies and the Evolution of Culturally Relevant, Responsive, and Sustaining Education
Alexandra J. Reyes and Taylor A. Norman
Since the latter half of the 20th century, resource pedagogies have been encouraged in U.S. teacher education programs and promoted through in-service teacher professional development sessions. Resource pedagogies resist deficit perspectives by taking an asset-based perspective of cultural and linguistic difference. Asset-based perspectives differ from traditional, deficit-oriented schooling practice by viewing the rich cultural, linguistic, and literacy practices and knowledges of students from communities that have been historically marginalized by White middle-class normed policies as valuable assets. Major resource pedagogies have evolved since their emergence in response to the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. Specifically, educational researchers and practitioners have advanced multicultural education, culturally relevant pedagogy, culturally responsive teaching, and culturally sustaining pedagogies to address educational inequities and narrow the opportunity gap between students from dominant communities and those that have been historically marginalized. Although numerous researchers and classroom practitioners have demonstrated the power of these asset-based pedagogies to improve student engagement and academic achievement for students from historically marginalized communities, they are still not widely incorporated in practice. Controversies around the conceptualization, conflation, and implementation of the various asset-based approaches to teaching and learning push educational researchers and practitioners to continue to refine and transform education.
Universal Design for Learning: Changing the Way We Interact With Diversity
Universal Design for Learning, widely known as UDL, is a framework for creating flexible curriculum and pedagogy that provides access for all students, giving the opportunity to build from their strengths. First introduced in 1998, UDL is centered on three principles: (a) provide multiple means of engagement, (b) provide multiple means of representation, and (c) provide multiple means of action and expression. In applying the framework in K–12 or postsecondary schools, educators first consider the diversity of students, their assets and needs, the barriers that interfere with their success, and then plan lessons that are widely accessible. UDL has close relationship with technology as it provides various ways to present content, engage students, and demonstrate their learning. Research and policy, largely in the United States, support the growth of UDL. Research has created UDL tools like the Strategic Reader, produced recommendations for implementation, and measured efficacy. The National UDL Task Force, a coalition of stakeholder organizations has worked for the integration of UDL principles into local, state, and federal policies. Critiques of the framework note a dearth of empirical evidence and inconsistency in the research. They also help identify a path forward in designing new research and attending to complications in the framework that might better address diversity and bring students to the center.
Sociocultural Factors and the Global Goals of Education for All
Eric A. Hurley
All over the world, nations have spent much of the last 20 years scrambling to increase and improve access to basic education. Globally, the number of people without access to a basic education has fallen significantly in the years since the goals of Education For All (EFA) were announced in 2000 at the World Education Forum in Dakar, Senegal, and extended at Incheon, South Korea, in 2016. This is ostensibly very good news. While universal access to a basic education is certainly a worthy goal, one can raise significant questions about the orientation of these efforts and the manner in which they are being pursued. For example, very little attention seems to have been paid to what the schools are or will be like, or to how the nations and people they must serve may be different from those for whom they were designed. To understand the inevitable problems that flow from this potential mismatch, it is useful to examine education in nations that have achieved more or less universal access to basic education. Many of the educational, social, economic, and social justice disparities that plague those nations are today understood as natural effects of the educational infrastructures in operation. Examination of recent empirical research and practice that attends to the importance of social and cultural factors in education may allow nations that are currently building or scaling up access to head off some predictable and difficult problems before they become endemic and calcified on a national scale. Nations who seize the opportunity to build asset-based and culturally responsive pedagogies into their educational systems early on may, in time, provide the rest of the world with much needed leadership on these issues.