Opinion
School Climate & Safety Letter to the Editor

Diverse Classrooms Facilitate Interracial Friendships

September 23, 2014 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

The well-publicized issues in Ferguson, Mo., stemming from the shooting of Michael Brown reveal yet again the persistent problems in America regarding race relations. No doubt, we are still living with the ramifications of a complicated and unhappy history. But pervasive residential, social, and educational separation lie at the heart of our inability to grow toward a post-racial society.

One potentially powerful tool to combat ignorance and prejudice—if reimagined to leverage the richness of our student populations—is our K-12 education system. What if every child across the United States (as much as geographically possible) learned and played in classrooms with students from a range of ethnicities, races, and socioeconomics?

Research from the National Coalition of Diverse Schools shows that when students of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds learn together side by side, prejudice and stereotyping among those students is reduced.

But how do you forge interracial friendships in racial isolation? How do you improve social cohesion when schools are separated by government-enforced district lines in neighborhoods that are increasingly segregated?

There’s a movement of charter schools using innovative practices to expand diverse schools: the National Coalition of Diverse Charter Schools. Members include the well-known Success Academies in New York City and High Tech High schools in San Diego, and the lesser-known, but academically and socially excellent, Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy in Rhode Island, part of the system where I work.

We cannot be afraid to be bold in order to bring together our increasingly diversifying society. If we want to see attitudes evolve, we must seriously consider redistricting or exploring innovative models for integration like the diverse-schools coalition. Let’s make sure all of America’s young hearts, minds, and colors blend, play, and learn together in one classroom—the way it should be. The way it should always have been.

Katelyn Silva

Chief Communications Officer

Rhode Island Mayoral Academies

Providence, R.I.

A version of this article appeared in the September 24, 2014 edition of Education Week as Diverse Classrooms Facilitate Interracial Friendships

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
IT Infrastructure & Management Webinar
From Chaos to Clarity: How to Master EdTech Management and Future-Proof Your Evaluation Processes
The road to a thriving educational technology environment is paved with planning, collaboration, and effective evaluation.
Content provided by Instructure
Special Education Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table - Special Education: Proven Interventions for Academic Success
Special education should be a launchpad, not a label. Join the conversation on how schools can better support ALL students.
Special Education K-12 Essentials Forum Innovative Approaches to Special Education
Join this free virtual event to explore innovations in the evolving landscape of special education.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Climate & Safety Explainer Restorative Justice in Schools, Explained
What is restorative justice, and how can it be implemented in schools?
1 min read
Generic school hallway with lockers
Some districts have integrated more restorative justice practices into their disciplinary structure. Experts describe what restorative justice looks like and how it can be implemented in schools.
iStock/Getty
School Climate & Safety Video 3 Steps for Schools to Use Relationships as a 'Prevention Strategy'
Research has shown that strong school relationships can be a prevention strategy for chronic absenteeism, misbehavior, and other challenges.
7 min read
Four high school students work together on an experiment in an AP chemistry class at a high school in Los Angeles, Calif. on Wednesday, January 22, 2020.
Four high school students work together on an experiment in an AP chemistry class at a high school in Los Angeles, Calif. on Wednesday, January 22, 2020.
Allison Shelley/EDUimages
School Climate & Safety Uvalde Shooting Victims' Families Sue State Police, Settle With City for $2M
The families say they also agreed a $2 million settlement with the city, which will be used on better training for local police.
3 min read
Crosses are surrounded by flowers and other items at a memorial on June 9, 2022, for the victims of a shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. The families of 19 people who were killed or injured in the shooting and their attorneys are set to make an announcement, Wednesday, May 22, 2024.
Crosses are surrounded by flowers and other items at a memorial on June 9, 2022, for the victims of a shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. The families of 19 people who were killed or injured in the shooting and their attorneys are set to make an announcement, Wednesday, May 22, 2024. Friday will mark the two-year anniversary of the shooting where a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers.
Eric Gay/AP
School Climate & Safety Opinion How Do Restorative Practices Work?
Traditional punitive measures tend to reap more misbehavior.
13 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty