February 11, 2009

How Important is Diversity?

Check out this fantastic post over at Anti-Racist Parent about "How Important Is Diversity When Choosing a School?" The question is posed by a parent who is looking for advice as to whether to choose a school that has a good representation of diversity, but I think it's very relevant in the conversation about choosing a college, too.

In that thread, I wrote a comment (#11) about what I thought. Check it out!

From the editor, Tami:
Choosing the right school for a child can be a difficult for any parent. No matter the race of your child, diversity is but one factor to consider among academic and other concerns. Which factor should be paramount? The aggravating thing is that there is really no right answer to that question. They key is determining the right decision for your child and your family at any given point in time.

My response:

I think it’s wonderful when people can choose their school, however I’m in the population where we can’t choose our school. We moved to the city/town we did because it was what we could afford. The better funded school system was just too much for us to afford in terms of taxes, etc.

I agree that it is difficult to be the “only” ( I was one of the onlies throughout my entire secondary education). However, even though a school may be diverse in terms of population, there is so much inequity in how kids are treated based on their race. For example, though a school is racially diverse, are all the Black kids stuck in the remedial programs and all the White kids in honors programs (regardless of academic talent)? Are kids of color disproportionately the ones sent to the Principal’s office or held inside during recess?

I sometimes think the bigger and better questions aren’t necessarily about the population of the students but rather the attitudes of the teachers/administrators. If there are White teachers who “get it” and who teach in a predominantly white school, I’d be more likely to send my bi-racial children (Latino/Asian) kids there than to a racially diverse school where all the kids of color are institutionally discriminated against.

With my 5 year old, I’m also realizing that all the good can happen at her school, but if she comes home and watches certain TV shows, she’s getting negative messages about people of color.

For those of us who can’t choose the school, I think the responsibility is on us - even more so - to make sure that our kids are getting the correct messages about diversity.

I write this, and yet, still wish I had more friends of color growing up..!

Check out the whole thing, though. It's well worth it!