Opinion
Equity & Diversity Letter to the Editor

Economic Hardships Need Not Mean ‘Huge Deficits’ in School

May 12, 2015 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

In “Teachers’ Ethnicity Matters” (Walt Gardner’s Reality Check blog, www.edweek.org, April 15, 2015), Walt Gardner argues that we should work to diversify our teacher workforce, but cautions that this goal comes with a challenge—students and families who face economic hardships and bring “huge deficits in socialization, motivation, and intellectual development to class through no fault of their own.”

As an elementary-mathematics teacher-educator at a Hispanic-serving institution in a large city in Texas, I can say that we do not see our children’s backgrounds as challenges. Instead, we actively seek out collaborations with urban schools in which many children are emerging bilinguals, have undocumented status, qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, and bring a diverse set of needs.

Based on Mr. Gardner’s conclusion, one could ask us why we place education students in training at these schools, if those children come with so little.

Our response is that our vision extends beyond the periphery and the apparent. We recognize the immense resources that all children, families, and communities bring to our classrooms. Some children may come to school hungry, or without a pencil, but that doesn’t mean they come with nothing to contribute to the classroom.

As economic inequality grows, the social crisis it represents is not going away simply by dismissing some families and communities as less than others because of their circumstances. Instead, each of us can and must make a contribution to the learning process that will mean progress despite financial status. We argue that everyone (including teachers, teacher-educators, and education students) has a surplus of knowledge, experiences, and resources that both crosses and is shaped by lines of race, ethnicity, native language, gender, and class.

Ultimately, we as educators consider our students to be wealthy, because their knowledge and experiences are valued currency in our classrooms. We encourage more educators to shift their thinking from the question of what “those” students are missing, to asking themselves, “What am I missing” when I look at them?

Crystal Kalinec-Craig

Assistant Professor of

Curriculum and Instruction

University of Texas at San Antonio

San Antonio, Texas

A version of this article appeared in the May 13, 2015 edition of Education Week as Economic Hardships Need Not Mean ‘Huge Deficits’ in School

Events

Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
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
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Science of Reading: Emphasis on Language Comprehension
Dive into language comprehension through a breakdown of the Science of Reading with an interactive demonstration.
Content provided by Be GLAD
English-Language Learners Webinar English Learners and the Science of Reading: What Works in the Classroom
ELs & emergent bilinguals deserve the best reading instruction! The Reading League & NCEL join forces on best practices. Learn more in our webinar with both organizations.

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

Equity & Diversity Spotlight Spotlight on Inclusion & Equity
This Spotlight will help you examine disparities in districts’ top positions, the difference between equity and equality, and more.
Equity & Diversity Opinion You Should Be Teaching Black Historical Contention
How to responsibly teach this critical component of Black history instruction —and why you should.
Brittany L. Jones
4 min read
A student raises their hand to ask a question before a group of assorted historical figures.
Camilla Sucre for Education Week
Equity & Diversity Opinion 2 Billion People Celebrate Lunar New Year. Your Class Can, Too
Many school districts are putting the upcoming holiday on their calendars. Guests, music, food, and red envelopes can help bring the festival alive.
Sarah Elia
4 min read
 Illustration depicting a vibrantly colored dragon winding through traditions practiced during the lunar new year.
Changyu Zou for Education Week
Equity & Diversity Suburban Schools Reborn: Compton, Calif., Is Charting a Hopeful Path
An exclusive excerpt from a new book about America's fast-changing suburban schools by former Education Week Staff Writer Benjamin Herold.
7 min read
Principal Bilma Bermudez looks at the virtual reality scene 8th grade student Miguel Rios created at Jefferson Elementary School in Compton, Calif., on Jan. 19, 2024.
Principal Bilma Bermudez looks at the virtual reality scene 8th grade student Miguel Rios designed at Jefferson Elementary School in Compton, Calif., on Jan. 19, 2024.
Lauren Justice for Education Week