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


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.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Start Strong With Solid SEL Implementation: Success Strategies for the New School Year
Join Satchel Pulse to learn why implementing a solid SEL program at the beginning of the year will deliver maximum impact to your students.
Content provided by Satchel Pulse
Teaching Live Online Discussion Seat at the Table: How Can We Help Students Feel Connected to School?
Get strategies for your struggles with student engagement. Bring questions for our expert panel. Help students recover the joy of learning.
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.
Science Webinar
Real-World Problem Solving: How Invention Education Drives Student Learning
Hear from student inventors and K-12 teachers about how invention education enhances learning, opens minds, and preps students for the future.
Content provided by The Lemelson Foundation

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 From Our Research Center What Would Make Schools Safer? Here's What Educators Say
Respondents to a national survey of educators said measures like red flag laws, more school counselors are key to any school safety law.
7 min read
Photograph of crime scene tape and school.
F.Sheehan/Education Week and Getty
School Climate & Safety From Our Research Center 'The World Feels Less Stable': Educators' Sense of School Safety Right Now
6 in 10 educators said a mass shooting by a student or outsider was their biggest source of fear.
7 min read
Woman standing on a paper boat with a tsunami wave approaching.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
School Climate & Safety Texas Top Cop: Uvalde Police Could Have Ended Rampage Early On
The head of the Texas state police pronounced the law enforcement response an “abject failure.”
5 min read
FILE - Law enforcement, and other first responders, gather outside Robb Elementary School following a shooting, on May 24, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas. Law enforcement authorities had enough officers on the scene of the Uvalde school massacre to have stopped the gunman three minutes after he entered the building, the Texas public safety chief testified Tuesday, June 21 pronouncing the police response an “abject failure.”(AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills, File)
School Climate & Safety 2 Police Officers Had Chance to Shoot Uvalde School Gunman, Deputy Says
The unidentified officers said they feared hitting children playing in the line of fire outside the school.
2 min read
Flowers are placed around a welcome sign outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Wednesday, May 25, 2022, to honor the victims killed in Tuesday's shooting at the school.
Flowers are placed around a welcome sign outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, to honor the victims killed in the May 24th shooting at the school.
Jae C. Hong/AP