Education Letter to the Editor

Competing Nations and Multicultural Challenge

October 26, 2009 1 min read

To the Editor:

In their Commentary “Standards Aren’t Enough” (Oct. 14, 2009), Susan H. Fuhrman, Lauren Resnick, and Lorrie Shepard compare the United States’ approach to curriculum with those of other countries, and write that high-scoring nations such as Singapore, Japan, South Korea, and the Czech Republic provide teachers with “much clearer guidance on the key ideas to be explored and mastered in each grade.”

I am a teacher of second languages (French, Latin, and Spanish), and in my Baltimore high school, we have students from over 20 countries whose diverse needs—academic, cultural, and linguistic—educators are held accountable for meeting. Because the United States as a whole has made a commitment to multicultural models of curricula, instructional designs, and assessments, achieving the levels of clarity of guidance that other countries can provide may be challenging. Do Singapore, Japan, South Korea, and the Czech Republic have such multicultural schools?

What kinds of research methods should American educators use, or develop, to provide clearer guidance for instructors? How can research findings be put to use in formulating curricular goals and objectives, designing instructional strategies, and generating meaningful assessments—both formative and summative—to assist our multicultural students and enhance their levels of achievement?

Sherman Luxenburg

Baltimore City Public Schools

Baltimore, Md.

A version of this article appeared in the October 28, 2009 edition of Education Week as Competing Nations and Multicultural Challenge