Multicultural teacher education for the 21st century

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  • This article was downloaded by: [Ondokuz Mayis Universitesine]On: 11 November 2014, At: 12:58Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number:1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street,London W1T 3JH, UK

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    Multicultural teachereducation for the 21stcenturyGeneva Gay a & Tyrone C. Howard ba Curriculum and Instruction , University ofWashington , Seattleb School of Teaching and Learning , Ohio StateUniversity ,Published online: 20 Jan 2010.

    To cite this article: Geneva Gay & Tyrone C. Howard (2000) Multiculturalteacher education for the 21st century, The Teacher Educator, 36:1, 1-16, DOI:10.1080/08878730009555246

    To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08878730009555246

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  • MULTICULTURAL TEACHER EDUCATIONFOR THE 21st CENTURY

    Geneva GayCurriculum and Instruction, University of Washington, Seattle

    Tyrone C. HowardSchool of Teaching and Learning, Ohio State University

    AbstractThis article explains several reasons why multicultural preservice teachereducation is important and suggests some ways it can be betteraccomplished. The authors make a strong case for teacher educationprograms to be more deliberate about preparing European Americans toteach ethnically diverse students of color. They argue that this explicitprofessional preparation is needed because of the increasing racial,cultural, and linguistic divide between teachers (predominately EuropeanAmerican) and K12 students (increasingly from ethnic groups of color).Two other factors underscore the need for more multicultural teachereducation: the fear of diversity and the resistance to dealing with raceand racism frequently expressed by students enrolled in teacher educationprograms. To overcome these problems and better prepare preserviceteachers to work effectively with ethnically diverse students the authorssuggest a two-part program of professional development.

    We seriously doubt that existing preservice programs areadequately preparing teachers to meet the instructional challenges ofethnically, racially, socially, and linguistically diverse students in the21st century. These doubts are prompted by several developmentsthat are already evident and others that are beginning to emerge.They involve students enrolled in both K-12 schools and in teachereducation programs, and changes occurring in society at large. Someof these are discussed in this article, along with recommendations onhow to better prepare teachers for the challenges of multiculturaleducation.

    The Demographic DivideAccording to recent statistics from the U.S. Department of

    Education (1999a, 1999b), 86% of all elementary and secondaryteachers are European Americans. The number of African Americanteachers has declined from a high of 12% in 1970 to 7% in 1998.The number of Latino and Asian/Pacific Islander American teachers

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  • is increasing slightly, but the percentages are still very small(approximately 5% and 1%, respectively). Native Americanscomprise less than 1% of the national teaching force.

    Student enrollments are growing in the opposite directionracially. Sixty-four percent of K-12 students are European American.The other 36% are distributed accordingly among groups of color:17% African American, 14% Latinos, 4% Asian/Pacific IslanderAmericans, and 1% Native Americans/Alaskans (U.S. Department ofEducation, 1999a, 1999b). These enrollment trends are expected tocontinue to grow as the new century progresses. For example, theAnnie E. Casey Foundation (as cited in U.S. Department ofEducation, 1999a, 1999b), a private charitable foundation forbuilding better futures for disadvantaged children, projected that asearly as 2005 there will be significant changes in the number ofchildren in the U.S. by ethnic groups. European Americans areexpected to decline by 3%, but African Americans will increase by8% and Native Americans by 6%. The greatest increases arepredicted to occur among Asian/Pacific Islanders (32%) and Latinos(21%). Undoubtedly, these changes will be reflected in schoolenrollments as well. Students currently enrolled in teacher educationprograms will be affected directly by these radical changes in theethnic, racial, and cultural distribution of students in schools.

    Furthermore, large numbers of European Americans andstudents of color really do not attend school with each other; nor aredifferent groups of color in the same schools. Most students go toschool with others from their own ethnic groups. Stated differently,despite over four decades of experimentation with desegregation,massive numbers of students continue to attend racially segregatedschools. For example, students of color are the majority in 70 of the130 school districts in the United States with a student population of36,000 or more. This majority ranges from 51% to 97%. Students ofcolor are 55% of the enrollments in the 449 school districts with apopulation of 15,000 or more. African Americans are thepredominate group of color in 75 of the 130 largest schools districts,Latinos in 33, Asian Americans in 6, and Native American/Alaskansin only 1 (Alaska). Only 4 of the largest school districts have a fairlyequal distribution of Latino, African, and Asian American students(U.S. Department of Education, 1999a).

    An additional indicator of the racial separation of students inschools is evident in the geography of school enrollments. Students ofcolor are heavily clustered in large cities, urban centers, and

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  • occasionally in rural areas. Also, ethnic groupings of students arespecific to different regions of the country. African Americans areheavily clustered in the Southeast and the Great Lakes region; NativeAmericans in the Great Plains, Pacific Northwest and Alaska; AsianAmericans along the Pacific Coast and in Hawaii; and Latinos inNew York, Florida, and the Southwest.

    Many teachers do not share residential backgrounds withstudents they teach, and ethnically diverse students are notnecessarily in the same classrooms. These two facts have majorimplications for teacher education. So does another developing trendin the professionthe many veteran teachers expected to retire in thenext three to five years. A tremendous amount of experience andexpertise is going to be lost with their departures. An even biggerconcern for multicultural education is the high percentage of teachersof color (especially African Americans) who will be among theseretirements. They will not be easily replaced because there are so fewstudents of color enrolled in teacher education programs. These areadded reasons why European Americans must be taught thoroughlyduring their preservice training how to be effective multiculturalteachers of ethnically diverse students.

    Troubling Attitudes and AssumptionsCoupled with the growing "demographic divide" among students

    and teachers are some troubling attitudes toward racial and ethnicdiversity, which have strong implications for multicultural teacherpreparation in the 21st century. It would appear that two of theseare particularly significant: fear of teaching students of color andresistance to dealing directly with race and racism in teacher preparationand classroom practices.

    Fear of Teaching DiversityIt is a common occurrence for students in teacher education

    programs to express various forms of subtle resistance to embracingthe multicultural imperative for quality teaching and learning, and towork diligently to develop the knowledge and skills needed for itseffective implementation. It has been the authors' p