Equity & Diversity Letter to the Editor

Economic Hardships Need Not Mean ‘Huge Deficits’ in School

May 12, 2015 1 min read

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


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.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Culturally Relevant Pedagogy to Advance Educational Equity
Schools are welcoming students back into buildings for full-time in-person instruction in a few short weeks and now is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and systems to build
Content provided by PowerMyLearning
Classroom Technology Webinar Making Big Technology Decisions: Advice for District Leaders, Principals, and Teachers
Educators at all levels make decisions that can have a huge impact on students. That’s especially true when it comes to the use of technology, which was activated like never before to help students learn
Professional Development Webinar Expand Digital Learning by Expanding Teacher Training
This discussion will examine how things have changed and offer guidance on smart, cost-effective ways to expand digital learning efforts and train teachers to maximize the use of new technologies for learning.

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 Opinion Q&A Collections: Challenging Normative Gender Culture in Education
Ten years of posts on supporting LGBTQ students and on questions around gender roles in education.
1 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
Equity & Diversity Video These Schools Served Black Students During Segregation. There's a Fight to Preserve Them
A look at how Black people managed to grow a solid middle class without access to so many of America’s public schools.
According to The Campaign to Create a Julius Rosenwald & Rosenwald Schools National Historical Park, the two-teacher school was developed between 1926-1927 and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2009. The building is now owned by Cain’s Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, which sits adjacent to it.
The Russell School (also known as Cain’s School), a Rosenwald school in Durham, N.C., pictured on Feb. 17, 2021.
Jaclyn Borowski/Education Week
Equity & Diversity Letter to the Editor Former Teacher: Essay on Equity Falls Short
A retired teacher critiques an essay about equity in this letter to the editor.
1 min read
Equity & Diversity Opinion 'Students Deserve to Know Our History'
Two educators wrap up a four-part series on how teachers should respond to attacks on critical race theory and lessons on systemic racism.
9 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."