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Ed. Sec. John B. King, Jr to PTA: Diversity in Schools Benefits All Students

By Alyson Klein — July 12, 2016 1 min read

If parents want their children to be prepared for a diverse workforce, they should help bolster diversity in schools, U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr., told the National PTA earlier this month

“Like math and reading, like science, social studies, and the arts, diversity is no longer a luxury; it’s essential for helping our students get ready for the world they will encounter after high school and, increasingly, throughout their lives,” King said July 1. " If your child wants to grow up to work at Google or Facebook, they better be able to relate to people around the world as well as know how to code.”

And King thinks it isn’t only minority parents who have a stake here. “School diversity is an issue for all parents.

King said in an interview shortly before his remarks. “There’s a long body of research evidence that diverse schools can create better outcomes for all students,”

The Every Student Succeeds Act presents some opportunities for school districts here, King added. States and districts, he said, should consider bolstering diversity as a way to help schools that are struggling. Schools could, for instance, offer programs like dual language immersion that might attract a broader mix of families.

And schools where subgroup students are struggling should also take a look at this, he said. For example, he said, a school may be diverse, but Advanced Placement classes and enrichment opportunities may not be, he said in the interview.

What’s more, King said, Rep. Marcia Fudge and Sen. Chris Murphy are working on legislation to help school districts become better integrated.

King also noted in his speech that he sends both of his daughters to “extremely” diverse schools in Maryland’s Montgomery County.