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Culturally Sensitive Training -- Do Low-Income Minority Students Really Need New Teaching Standards?

Multiplication is for White People

Throughout 2014, 45 states will begin using a new teaching standard. It's called Common Core States Standards designed to teach English-language arts and math. The purpose of the new standards are to change the way schools teach and assess the progress of their students in a way that focuses more on critical thinking and problem-solving. The big question is whether or not it will help, especially minority students.

The standards are more rigorous, which places more pressure on teachers to revamp their lesson materials accordingly. The other major concern is how these more rigorous standards will affect students at schools in low-income communities of color. Will it help or hurt their achievement levels? It depends. According to Lisa Delpit, professor at Southern University and A&M College, who says in her 2013 book Multiplication is for White People, that the new standards will work if there is culturally sensitive training included in the Common Core training.

What is meant by culturally sensitive training?

As Delpit explains it, "Teachers in low-income communities of color need to learn to recognize that these students are inherently brilliant. They need to learn how to build relationships with these students and they need to know the local culture – particularly in New Orleans." Delpit recommends, for example, more studies related to Africa and African Americans. Understanding minority students and building a relationship with them is one of the keys to success.

In addition, she states that helping students improve their reading is important, even with students in higher grades who are still struggling with reading skills. Teachers "need to be prepared to teach reading in the higher grades because many students are behind and need additional instruction."

Will the new standards work?

Delpit thinks it will benefit more minorities if the curriculum and teaching methods are done correctly. As she describes it, "If teachers, university professors and education researchers develop plans to help those who have fallen behind, they can help prepare more African-Americans for college-level studies. Standards are important but curriculum is the key."

For more info about the book by Lisa Delpit, visit:

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