The Nonwhite Student Behind the White Picket Fence

The Nonwhite Student Behind the White Picket Fence

Date
Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Excerpt from The Atlantic article by Melinda D. Anderson:

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An influx of English-language learners and refugee students is altering the look and feel of suburban schools—as school districts respond to the dramatic shift with mixed results, and against the backdrop of a rising anti-immigrant climate.

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Suburban districts nationally are struggling to adjust to the new realities in schools. A recent report from the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE), “Suburban Schools: The Unrecognized Frontier in Public Education,” concludes that large numbers of English-language learners, student refugees, and students whose families struggle with poverty require suburban school districts to adapt and shift resources. “Suburbs essentially need to … become more nimble and responsive in the face of the new lives that are living there,” said Jordan Posamentier, the report’s co-author and the deputy policy director at CRPE, an education research group affiliated with the University of Washington. “The educational infrastructure in suburbs is playing catch-up in a lot of parts of the country.”

After examining suburban school districts that ring major cities, such as Atlanta, Seattle, and Houston, Posamentier said retooling the teacher workforce and identifying “transformative leaders who help set a tone for the culture in the building” top the list of ways to get at the challenges posed by new student populations. Training and retraining teachers to respond more effectively to a host of language-minority learners is key, he said, and offered Lawrence, Massachusetts—a Boston suburb where Latino immigrants account for most of the population and a large share of residents live below the poverty line—as a prime example. He also urged school leaders to think creatively and carve out solutions most beneficial for that locale: “You don’t want a leader who’s merely compliance-minded. They need to actually look into the community and appreciate what the needs are, and then make changes.”

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Read the full article.

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