Multicultural Education In The US Schools Essay

Length: 7 pages Sources: 7 Subject: Teaching Type: Essay Paper: #47023011 Related Topics: School Funding, Multicultural Diversity, Multiculturalism, School Board
Excerpt from Essay :

Multicultural Education and Communication Issue

The concept of multiculturalism refers to the cultural diversity with a given society. In other word, multiculturalism is a policy that promotes diversity as well as institutionalism at an organizational level such as schools, businesses, cities and nations. However, Gary (1994) defines multicultural education as "any set of processes by which schools work with rather than against oppressed groups." (p 1). Multiculturalism education can be defined "as a movement towards providing equal educational opportunities for everyone from different cultural, ethnic, or religious backgrounds." (Celik, 2013 p 1). The propagation of multicultural education started as far back as 1960 during the civil right movements in order to implement a "long standing corrective de facto policy of assimilating minority group into the "melting pot" of dominant American culture" (Gary, 1994 p 1). The assumption towards multicultural education is that American schools should be designed towards cultural enrichments in order to foster acceptance of cultural difference, decrease racisms as well as increasing social justice.

Objective of this essay is to provide the historical development of multiculturalism in the United States. The paper also explores the development of multiculturalism in the school system, and within the teacher's curriculum. Additionally, the essay explores the inclusion of students with learning disabilities in classes, and other issues related to multicultural education.

Historical Development of Multiculturalism in the United States

Celik, (2013) traced the history of multicultural education from time of the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" (p 1) where the United States struggled for various reforms. However, Bank (2006) pointed out that the historical development of multicultural education started during the civil right movements and the time of various oppressed groups in the United States stood against various form of oppression in the United States. The history of multicultural education can also be traced to the time the social actions are implemented by African-Americans in order to challenge discriminatory practice with the U.S. public school systems in 1960. During this time, a new reform of the educational program was demanded that emphasized on the integration of African-American and other ethnic studies in the American school curriculum.

During this time, the social right movement specifically targeted the educational institutions because the U.S. educational settings were the most hostile place that practiced discrimination and racial inequality. (Banks, 1994). In essence, parents, activists, and community leaders insisted on changing the hiring practice and called for a reform in the school curricula. In the late 1960s, the women right group also joined the movement by calling for the educational reform. In the early 1970s, the women right movements challenged the inequalities in educational opportunities, and employment income. The feminist's scholars as well as colored women also insisted that the school administrators should include histories and experiences of colored people in the school curricula. The women group challenged low number of female African-American in school administrative positions.

Similarly, in the early 1970, people with disabilities organized a powerful push for human and sociopolitical rights. Based on mounting pressures across the United States, the educational institutions, K-12 schools, universities, and organizations scrambled to address the historically marginalized groups. By consequence, policies, practices and a host of programs emerged and intended to focus on changes on the traditional educational curriculum. Meanwhile, the dissatisfied ethnic groups along with supporter of educational reforms defined the earliest concept of multicultural education in the early and mid1970s. In 1980s, researchers and progressive education activists developed a body of scholarship on multicultural education that focused on a concern on multicultural educational program. James Banks, who was a pioneer of multicultural education, advocated that the school administrators should examine schools from the social-multicultural context. Banks (1989) conceptualization of multicultural education was based on the educational equality. Bank (1989) argued that there was a need to transform the school policies, institutional materials, teachers' attitudes, teaching styles and assessment methods to maintain an effective multicultural environment. By the middle of 1980s, more scholarly publications supporting multicultural education were...


(Gollnick, 1980, Nieto, 1992 ).

Nieto (1992) in his own case developed a new and deeper framework of multicultural education, which was grounded on educational opportunities as well as connection between educational transformation and social changes. Banks (2004) points out that to move beyond a slight curricular change, there is a need to differentiate between curriculum, marginalization and other structural schools foundations that can contribute to educational inequities. In essence, there was general criticism of culturally oppressive standardized tests, teaching approach, discriminatory hiring practices, and school funding discrepancies. Moreover, oppressive educational systems were discussed, criticized and exposed.

By 1990s, the white Christian groups proposed that there was a need for everyone to develop a skill-set and knowledge that the present system failed to provide for students. These include intercultural competence, critical thinking skills, global and social awareness. The Christian group further argued that the U.S. educational system was plagued with unequal treatment and ill equipped to develop students to participate in a diverse society. By the end of the 1990s, supporters of multicultural education developed new models and approaches of learning, which was built on equal opportunity, critical thinking, and social justice. Thus, the cultural theorists, researchers and educators went against the traditional education model from multicultural perspectives in both higher education and K-12 systems. (Ovando, & McLaren, 2000). "In general, it may be concluded that multicultural education originated as a response to gradually increasing cultural diversity and became a distinct part of civil rights movement in the second half of the twentieth century in the U.S.A." (Celik, 2013, p1).

In the last few years, various multicultural models were being developed to address the shortcomings and ills of the current educational systems. Gary (1998) points out that multicultural education has captured headlines of daily newspapers and become more politicize and contentious battleground. In the midst of controversy, the Lake County school board introduced a multicultural education in the school curriculum to teach students the other cultures. However, the teaching style was to demonstrate the superiority of American culture over other cultures. However, in other part of the country, the multicultural education met with a strong criticism. An attempt to introduce the Rainbow curriculum in New York met with a strong opposition. Introduction of multicultural education in California also faced a strong attack on the ground that the multicultural education "threatened to divide students along cultural and racial lines rather than unite them as Americans." (Gary, 1994 p 1).

However, Nieto, (1992 ) provided a contrary opinion by asserting that multicultural education can provide a positive impact every aspect of school's operations such as curriculum, testing, staffing, pedagogy, and disciplinary policies. Gibson, (2009) also supports the introduction of multicultural education in the school curriculum on the ground that multicultural education will "equalize educational opportunities for culturally different students." (Gibson, 2009 p 95).

At present, the multicultural education has been introduced into the school curriculum in some states in the United States and the practice takes various forms.

Typology of Multicultural Education

The typology of multicultural comprises of three programs that that include:

Content-oriented programs

Student-oriented program, and Socially oriented program. (Gary, 1994).

The content educational program is the most common and recognizable type of multicultural education. The focus is to include the content of different cultural groups in the educational curriculum to improve student's knowledge about different cultural group. The program is to add multicultural themes and materials to the curriculum. The program is also to integrate multicultural content across all disciplines. An example of such program is single-group studies aimed to transform the entire school towards understanding the multicultural education.

On the other hand, the student-oriented program aimed to reflect a growing diversity in the American classrooms. The goal of the program is to improve the body of knowledge of different culturally, ethnic and gender groups in order to enhance the academic achievements of these groups. The program draws upon different cultural and linguistic backgrounds into the educational mainstream. Banks (1994) points out that student's oriented program can include bicultural or bilingual program built upon the culture and language of African-American students.

Gary, (1994) identifies the socially oriented programs as a way to reform both political and cultural contexts of schooling to enhance racial and cultural tolerance as well as reducing bias in the American schools. The program is to desegregate and restructure schools as well as encouraging cooperative learning programs, anti-bias programs and encouraging minority teachers. The program also attempts to emphasize on cultural equity and pluralism within the American society. The socially oriented approach is to prepare American students to become socially active citizens.

Despite the argument in favor of multicultural education, there still a misconception on the aims and meaning of multicultural education. One of the damaging misconceptions of the concept of multicultural education is that multicultural education is for African-American, Latino and other minority ethnic groups. Other misconception is that multicultural education is for non-dominant group of students (Rios and Stanton. 2011). Another misconception is that multicultural education aims to go against the…

Sources Used in Documents:


Banks, J.A. (1994). An introduction to multicultural education. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Banks, J.A. (2004). Multicultural education: Historical development, dimensions, and practices. In J.A. Banks & C.A. McGee Banks (Eds.), Handbook of research on multicultural education (2nd ed., pp. 3 -- 29). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Banks, J.A. (2006). Cultural diversity and education (5th Ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Celik, R.(2013). A History of Multicultural Education in the U.S.A.: Origins, Approaches, and Misconceptions. The Online Journal of New Horizons in Education. 2(4).

Cite this Document:

"Multicultural Education In The US Schools" (2014, December 27) Retrieved January 21, 2022, from

"Multicultural Education In The US Schools" 27 December 2014. Web.21 January. 2022. <>

"Multicultural Education In The US Schools", 27 December 2014, Accessed.21 January. 2022,

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