Banks (1999) lists eight multicultural benchmarks for
schools to utilize in order to maintain an effective multicultural school.
He states the following should be in place (p. 106):
- A multicultural education policy
statement sanctions and
- The staff has positive
attitudes and expectations toward
- The school staff reflects ethnic and
- The curriculum is transformational and
- Parent participation provides a
cultural context for teaching
and a link with student
- Teaching strategies are
empowering, and participatory.
- Teaching materials present diverse
racial, ethnic, and cultural
perspectives on events, concepts, and issues.
- Each program component is monitored on
a continuing basis.
A Policy Statement
School districts should have a policy statement on
multicultural education that conveys the board of education's dedication to
establishing and preserving schools in which students from all groups have an
equal opportunity to learn (Banks, 1999).
The purposes of a policy statement include: legitimacy to
multicultural education in the district, facilitating the creation of programs
and practices that promote cultural diversity and equal educational
opportunities for all, and communication to parents and the public that
multicultural education is a priority in the district (Banks, 1999).
The statement should include a rationale for multicultural
education and guidelines that can be used by staff in the district to develop
and apply a comprehensive multicultural education plan (Banks, 1999). The
New York City board of education's policy statement (1989) included the
Whereas, people from all parts
of the world live and work in New York City, necessitating a multicultural
education which fosters intergroup knowledge and understanding and equips
students to function effectively in a global society; and Whereas, multicultural
education values cultural pluralism and rejects the view that schools should
seek to melt away cultural differences or merely tolerate cultural diversity;
rather, multicultural education accepts cultural diversity as a valuable
resource that should be preserved and extended. . .
Following is an example of major objectives for
multicultural education written in the Indianapolis Public Schools' (1996)
1. To promote and foster intergroup understanding, awareness, and
appreciation by students and staff of the diverse ethnic, racial, cultural, and
linguistic groups represented in the Indianapolis Public Schools, the United
States, and the world.
2. To help students develop more positive attitudes toward cultural
diversity, especially in early grades by dispelling misconceptions, stereotypes,
and negative beliefs about themselves and others.
3. To identify the impact of racism and other barriers to acceptance of
A helpful resource for providing multicultural education
rationales is the position statements developed by national professional
organizations, such as the Curriculum Guidelines for Multicultural Education,
a policy statement adopted by the National council for the Social Studies (NCSS)
(Banks, Cortes, Gay, Garcia, & Ochoa, 1992).
back to top
The School Staff
All school staff should represent the racial and cultural
diversity in U.S. society. In order to develop positive attitudes toward
racial and ethnic diversity, students need to see administrators, teachers,
counselors, and others from various racial and ethnic backgrounds. This
will encourage an understanding that our society values and respects people from
different groups. Student beliefs can be strongly influenced by their
experiences. If role definitions in the school reflect negative
stereotyping, such as a white, male principal and female teachers, students may
harbor inaccurate beliefs about gender and race. To help alleviate this
problem, school districts should implement a policy for hiring and promotion of
people from different racial, gender, and ethnic groups (Banks, 1999).
back to top
Staff Attitudes and Expectations
Continuous professional development programs can
help educators in developing high expectations for low-income students and
students of color and to better understand the cultural experiences of these
students (Banks, 1999). Although many of these students have health,
motivational, and educational needs that can often challenge teachers, many are
academically gifted and talented (1999). Oftentimes, their talents are not
immediately revealed by standardized testing (Fordham, 1996). Teachers
must learn to be adept at discovering the hidden and underdeveloped abilities of
students of color and low-income students (Banks, 1999). The theory of multiple
intelligences developed by Gardner (1983) can be useful for teachers in
reexamining the concept of intelligence and to develop a broader view of human
back to top
Concepts, events, issues, and problems from different
ethnic perspectives and points of view should be included in the school
curriculum (Banks, 1997). The curriculum should reflect a transformation
and social action approach to multicultural education, rather than a
contributions or additive approach (Banks, 1999). This means that the
curriculum is reconceptualized by making ethnic content an integral part of a
transformed curriculum and should be distinguished from merely adding ethnic
content to the curriculum.
The teacher's role in implementing a multicultural
curriculum is of great importance (Banks, 1999). The teacher has influence
over the curriculum with his or her values, perspectives, and teaching styles.
This is why it is not feasible to produce a multicultural curriculum, give it to
teachers, and state that a multicultural curriculum exists in the district.
Valuable multicultural materials are made ineffective when used by a teacher who
lacks a knowledge base in multicultural education or who does not have positive
attitudes toward a variety of racial, ethnic, and cultural groups. For
this reason, it is imperative to implement continuous staff development.
Another way to ensure that effective multicultural
curriculums are being utilized in the schools is to analyze the preservice
teacher education programs (Banks, 1999). School districts should consider
multicultural education components in teacher education institutions as a
priority for the hiring of graduates. The National Council for the
Accreditation of Teacher Education has taken a leadership role in multicultural
education by requiring its members to implement components, courses, and
programs in multicultural education (National Council for the Accreditation of
Teacher Education [NCATE], 1997).
back to top
The teacher should be adept at implementing the
multicultural curriculum with interactive and cooperative strategies (Banks,
1999). As part of the multicultural curriculum, students should be given
many opportunities to express their feelings and emotions and to participate in
dialogues and cooperative groups with their peers. Didactic, teacher-led
instruction has serious weaknesses when teaching any content; however, it is
notably unfitting when teaching multicultural content - an area in which
diversity is valued and different perspectives are a vital part of the content.
back to top
Teaching materials in a school district should reflect the
historical and contemporary experiences of a range of ethnic and cultural groups
(Banks, 1999). However, it is not enough for textbooks and other materials
to simply contain content about various groups. Issues and perspectives
pertinent to various groups should be included, and the multicultural content
should be an fundamental part of the textbook or presentation and not an add-on
back to top
Banks (1999) explains, "A major goal of multicultural
education is to create equal educational opportunities for students from
different racial, ethnic, and social-class groups." There is great
disparity in academic achievement and graduation rates for students from
different racial and income groups in most school districts (1999). School
districts must determine these gaps and develop a plan for eliminating them.
Consideration must also be given to the proportion of
students of color that is expelled or suspended from school, and the amount
in special and gifted education (Sapon-Shevin, 1994; Zigmond, 1992).
Oftentimes, students of color are overrepresented among students who are
suspended from school and in classes for the mentally disabled (Reschly, 1988).
Conversely, these students are typically underrepresented in gifted education.
back to top
Because of the problems schools encounter, helping
students to achieve academic skills and to become productive citizens becomes
increasingly difficult - unless it seeks the support of parents and the
community (Graham, 1992; Hidalgo, Bright, Siu, Swap, & Epstein, 1995).
However, it is a challenging task to attain the support of parents because of
the rising numbers of both parents working outside the home (Banks, 1999). In Education
Week (1986) an article, "Here They Come, Ready or Not," reported
that fewer than 5 percent of U.S. households now reflect the traditional family
model of the past (i.e., a working father, mother at home, and two or more
Because of the increased levels of stress and demands on
time in U.S. households, schools must reconsider ways parents can realistically
be involved in the school (Comer, 1980). Schools should be careful not to
consider noninvolvement in traditional methods as a lack of parent interest
(Banks, 1999). School districts should employ a program for
involving parents that is considerate of the changing characteristics of
families, parents, and society (Banks, C.A.M., 1997; Graham, 1992; Hodkingson,
1991). It is the school's responsibility to reach out to its surrounding
community and welcome outside involvement.
back to top
The successful implementation and maintenance of a
multicultural education program is dependent on an effective evaluative plan
(Banks, 1999). It is necessary for methods to be developed in order to
conclude whether multicultural education goals established by the board of
education are being achieved. A successful monitoring program may consist of (1)
classroom visits to observe the use of strategies that are consistent with
cultural characteristics of students, (2) inspections of standardized test
scores disaggregated by race and social class, and (3) investigations of the
proportion of students of color who are suspended, are dropouts, and who are
classified as mentally disabled and gifted.
The monitoring program should be implemented on a systems
level and not focus on any one individual (Banks, 1999). This can help to
reinforce the idea that multicultural education is a shared responsibility of
the school and that everyone within the school building has an investment in its
success. An effective and well-conceptualized evaluative program will
provide the feedback necessary to determine whether multicultural benchmarks are
being met in the school and future directions to follow to ensure the ongoing
improvement of its multicultural climate.
back to top
Banks, C.A.M. (1997). Parents and teachers: Partners in school reform.
In J.A. Banks & C.A.M. Banks (Eds.), Multicultural Education: Issues and
Perspectives (3rd ed.), (pp. 408-426). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Banks, J.A. (1997). Teaching Strategies for Ethnic Studies (6th ed.).
Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Banks, J.A. (1999). An Introduction to Multicultural Education
(2nd ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Banks, J.A., Cortes, C.E., Gay, G., Garcia, R.L., & Ochoa, A. (1992). Curriculum
Guidelines for Multicultural Education (Rev. ed.), Washington, DC: National
Council for the Social Studies.
Comer, J.P. (1980). School Power: Implications of an Intervention
Project. New York: Free Press.
Fordham, S. (1996). Blacked Out: Dilemmas of Race, Identity, and
Success at Capital High. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple
Intelligences. New York: Basic Books.
Graham, P.A. (1992). S-O-S: Save our Schools. New York: Hill and Wang.
Here they come, ready or not. (1986, May 14). Education Week. Special
Hidalgo, N.M., Bright, J.A., Siu, S-F, Swap, S.M., & Epstein, J.L.
(1995). In J.A. Banks & C.A.M. Banks (Eds.), Handbook of Research on
Multicultural Education (pp. 498-524). New York: Macmillan.
Hodgkinson, H. (1991). Reform versus reality. Phi Delta Kappan, 73(1),
Indianapolis Public Schools. (1996, November). Resolution No. 7397:
Indianapolis Public Schools Multicultural Education. Indianapolis: Author.
National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education. (1997). Standards
for Procedures & Policies for the Accreditation of Professional Education
Units. Washington, DC: Author.
New York (City) Board of Education. (1989). Statement of Policy on
Multicultural Education and Promotion of Positive Intergroup Relations. New
Reschly, D.J. (1988). Minority MMR overrepresentation and special education
reform. Exceptional Children, 54, 316-323.
Sapon-Shevin, M. (1994). Playing Favorites: Gifted Education and the
Disruption of Community. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Zigmond, N. (Ed.). (1992). Issues in the education of African-American youth
in special education settings. Special Issue. Exceptional Children, 59,