"Multicultural Struggles in American Educational History"

 
Multicultural Struggles in American Educational History Minority education has been an area of concern in the American Educational System due to the cultural diversity and socio-economic imbalances that the multicultural students in bore with them. The US Department of Education reports that 12 percent of the students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools in 1990 were Hispanics and their number is expected to be higher. Hispanic Americans in the US consist mainly of Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, Central and South Americans, Caribbean Americans and Cubans. Since the Hispanic Americans came from diverse nations and backgrounds with distinctive histories and political experiences, it becomes difficult for them to cope up with the American cultural identity and this has resulted in multicultural issues in the American educational system. Mexican Americans form almost 64% of the Hispanic Americans in the US Poor Mexican Americans in the beginning of the 19th century had to face segregation because they had to attend schools outside of the White system. For instance, 54.8 percent of Hispanic students attended predominantly non-white schools in 1968, and 18 years later, 71.5 percent of Hispanic students were still in such schools. Another concern for Hispanic students is that they are not an officially recognized minority population, and as a result they fail to claim access to those resources and support services created to address the specific needs of minority students. There are many reasons for the deteriorating number of Hispanic students who could go ahead with higher studies after their secondary education. Many of them are forced to take up jobs that do not require a high level of education due to their weak financial condition. Several Hispanics also become compelled to drop out as they do not find ample opportunities to assert their individuality. One of the reasons for this is the one-sided curricula of many schools where European cultural studies dominate and other cultures are being virtually ignored. A study conducted by Martha S. Lue and Rebeka McCloud of the University of Florida found out that there were only 13 percent of minority teachers in the country in 1990 and it is likely to decrease to 5 percent by 2000; they observed that this “shortage of minority teachers is one of the nation’s most critical educational problems.” (Marth S. Lue and Rebeka McCloud, 2007). Even though there is a steady growth in the number of Hispanic and other minority students, one cannot find a proportionate increase in the number of minority teachers in the nation. There is no doubt that minority teachers will be better equipped to communicate effectively with students of color as they possess “an inherent understanding of the backgrounds, attitudes and experiences” (Marth S. Lue and Rebeka McCloud, 2007) of Hispanic and other multicultural students. The Minority Programs In Education (MPIE) - founded in 1990 and formerly known as TEAM (Teacher Education for America’s Minorities), which tries to respond to this critical shortage of minority teachers, should be commended as a praiseworthy endeavor in this regard. Another factor that hinders Hispanic education is that technological developments like the computer and internet are not always accessible to Hispanics and blacks: “Computer and internet use are divided along demographic and socioeconomic lines. Use of both technologies is higher among whites than among Blacks and Hispanics.” (Ben Feller, 2007). It is estimated that while 67% of White students use the internet, only 44% of Hispanics are able to do so. It is unfortunate to find many minority students who are unable to pursue higher studies in America due to financial problems and low income being earned by their parents. It is estimated by the Federal Government’s Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance that each year nearly 400,000 academically qualified students fail to pursue a postsecondary education because they cannot afford it due to the low income level of their families 


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