sanction. As a result, teachers and other
educators may conclude that these
families do not value education. In fact,
in general, African American, Latino,
American Indian, and Pacific Island
families have a great deal of respect
for education and view it as the best
way out of poverty and hopelessness
(see Bouffard, Bridglall, Gordon, &
Family involvement strategies that are
Good for All
responsive to racial and ethnic diversity
reject the idea that language or cultural
differences are insurmountable barriers.
They encourage educators to
n Learn about their students’ families
by communicating with them consis-
tently and respectfully.
n Learn about the communities in
which they teach by becoming familiar
with the community resources.
n Learn to speak at least one of the
native languages of the students they
n Learn how to engage families in
their children’s education in ways that
enrich the curriculum, family support
for learning, and teachers’ knowledge of
n Listen to what the families need and
want for their children (Hildalgo, Sui, &
Often, schools marginalize special
efforts to meet the needs of students
of racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds, treating them as actions that
take time away from the central tasks of
improving academic achievement.
But there is no zero-sum game here.
Indeed, it is ironic that policies and
practices that are particularly
responsive to the needs of students of
color are likely to be the best things we
could do to enhance the learning of all
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Authors’ note: The concerns addressed
in this article are the focus of the Southern
Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Diverse
Students Initiative. Extensive resources
for improving the learning opportunities
of students of color can be found on the
initiative’s website at www.tolerance.org/
tdsi. Resources include articles, learning
activities, interactive cases, interviews, and
examples of promising practices.
Learn how one school system has encouraged educators to rethink their
assumptions about race and privilege in the online-only article “Questioning
Our Beliefs and Biases” by John Krownapple, Razia F. Kosi, and Shannon
Keeny available at www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/
Willis D. Hawley is professor emeritus
of Education and Public Policy at the University of Maryland and director of the
Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching
Diverse Students Initiative; wdh@umd
.edu. Sonia Nieto is professor emerita
of Language, Literacy, and Culture,
School of Education, University of Massachusetts, Amherst; snieto@educ