FaceBook, GlobalCoin and the US Dollar

Facebook-Global-Coin-2020 (1)Jasmin Cowin, Ed.D.

A few days ago, Laura Mccracken, Facebook’s head of financial services in Northern Europe, announced that Facebook will release the White Paper for their cryptocurrency GlobalCoin (nicknamed Project Libra) on June 18th, 2019. (https://lnkd.in/d5rk7FC). Here my concern: Will Facebook through GlobalCoin pose a threat to the US Dollar? GlobalCoin will be a stablecoin. Stablecoins are cryptocurrencies designed to minimize the volatility of the price by being pegged to a currency, or to exchange-traded commodities such as precious metals or industrial metals. GlobalCoin will be pegged to a “basket of fiat currencies”. The Wall Street Journal reported that the social media giant has signed on more than a dozen backers for its GlobalCoin cryptocurrency. “Each of the new backers will invest roughly $10 million in the project as part of a governing consortium for the cryptocurrency. The crypto will operate within the company’s messaging infrastructure – WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger.” quoted from Nikhilesh De, https://lnkd.in/dNtzMcC hashtag#GlobalCoin hashtag#ProjectLibra hashtag#stablecoin hashtag#Facebook

Touro College Graduate School of Education Information Session

Join me at this informative event on how to become a public school teacher. It is not too late to register for the Touro GSE information session tomorrow! The goal is to provide content of value by having our DOE rep talk about the process on becoming a public NYC teacher. After the event, we will have a table for those interested in learning more about our programs. The goal is to provide a space where prospective students can organically interact with our students, staff, faculty, and alumni.

Touro GSE How to Become NYC Public School Teacher event on 5.23.19

Bridging the Divide Project a Case Study on Multicultural Education by Touro Certificate Candidate Luz Alina Muñoz Rivas

An exemplary submission of a case study was submitted by Luz Alina Muñoz Rivas, who holds a bachelors in music, minor in dance and a masters in Education. She is working to obtain a Bilingual Education Advanced Certificate at Touro College, Graduate School of Education, Tesol, and Bilingual Department, to append to her NYS Ed. Professional teacher certificate in music.

For the Touro TESOL EDPN 671 Theory and Practice of Bilingual and Multicultural Education, the course reviewed the impact of historical, legal, sociological, and political issues in relationship to the education of culturally and linguistically diverse students. Students explore the evolution of attitudes regarding bilingualism and multiculturalism in the United States. Emphasis will be placed on developing multicultural competence as educators, with areas of focus including cross-cultural communication in the classroom and with parents; how the language and culture of the home and the community impact student learning; cultural factors in the relationships between the school and the community. Models of multicultural and bilingual education were presented and analyzed. A final project was a case study with interviews which Ms. Rivas conducted.

Luz Alina Muñoz Rivas:

Bridging the Divide Project is an arduously focused attempt to place myself in a family’s shoes in order to understand how they have constructed meaning from their experiences. As I endeavor to do this, I explore their views about immigrating or their role in the host country, educating their children, and engaging with the educational system, and other relevant findings. In my findings, I will include: Part I – setting, family background, an explanation why this family was chosen for this study, social, economic, educational, and personal backgrounds, if applicable: Immigration (first, second generation) experience. Relatives in the area, Funds of knowledge, cultural competencies, and difficulties encountered (e.g., prejudice, discrimination). Part II – Analysis: How language and culture interact in the formation of a student’s identity, Identifying any cross-cultural conflicts apparent in the interview process and distinguishing between cultural boundary and a cultural border, selecting appropriate teaching techniques based on knowledge of students’ cultural backgrounds, how the importance of the home culture and the effect on student learning and Part III – Conclusions and Recommendations.

Part I – A. Setting

  1. Describe the setting in which the dialogue took place.
  • Huntington New York at their home on 3/28/19 at 8:30 a.m. until almost 10 a.m.
  • Dialogue with youngest child (Little Miss X) in music classroom 4/5/19 at 9:20 a.m. and observed her in DL classroom setting on 4/10/19 at 11 a.m. ‘til 11:40 a.m.
  • A small and very clean house on the top of a hill by a narrow two way street.
  • Small Clean Living room with sofa, love seat and wall TV with family pictures
  • Chihuahua dog greeter
  1. Describe the neighborhood and reflections about your walk-through.
  • Living in Huntington. Huntington is a medium-sized coastal town (i.e. on the ocean, a bay, or inlet) located in the state of New York. With a population of 18,176 people and nine constituent neighborhoods, Huntington is the 104th largest community in New York.
  • Narrow streets are lined with multiple storefronts and busy traffic with cars and trucks traveling to and from.
  • Major street divides 400K homes from 1.5 million dollar homes
  • Private pools all around the neighborhood

Walk through was safe and relatively comfortable.

  1. Family Background
  • Parents are Latin American and Bilingual (Spanish & English)
  • Family is Christian
  • Young Mr. B participates in a young Single Adults program at the local church
  • Miss Y is an 8th grade student in high honors. She has won their annual art contest 8 years consecutively. Wants to grow up to be a lawyer.
  • Little Miss X and Little Mr. W go to church with their family every Sunday and participate in a primary organization for children 18 months to 11 years of age. She does sports on Fridays at their elementary school and is a member of the church’s primary organization.
  1. Explain why this family was chosen for this study.
  • Recommended by my supervisor
  • Children are DL learners that were born in the U.S.A. and have or are being taught by Mr. EZ
  • Bilingual family
  • Latino culture- 1st generation
  • Strong family support for better education
  • “Sojourners” with the intent to be permanent
  • Sturdy signs of good assimilation of both Eastern American and Latin American cultures evident
  • Judeo/Christian culture

A brief history of the AB family:

Mama A, a sojourner, arrived as a single mother to the U.S. from Honduras with her 3-year-old son nineteen years ago with the intent to become permanent. She quickly acquired L2 skills in order to find work and make a permanent home of New York, U.S.A. Mama A works part-time as a waitress and Papa W works as a foreman for a luxury ship on Long Island. They are all permanent residents except for U.S. born children that are U.S. citizens. Their oldest son (now age 21) has been diagnosed ADD and has been educated in the U.S. his entire life. He can speak English well and can understand conversational Spanish. Mama A married fifteen years ago and since then gave birth to three children while living in New York: Miss Y; age 14, Little Mr. W; age 10 and Little Miss X; age 8.  Their two daughters qualified to take part of the school’s  DL program. The following diagram shows each member of the AB Family, age, place of birth, countries and cities where they have lived as well as ages when children immigrated:

Luz Family

  1. Social, economic, educational, and personal backgrounds.

Social: Papa W currently works at the bay and Mama A works as a waitress and live in an affluent neighborhood. They have strong Christian values, strong family values and strong extended family connections despite the distance.

Economic: Both are working and live in a 400K house and own a car.

Personal Backgrounds:  She arrived to NY a single mom and with a strong desire for education and L2 acquisition in order to support her family.

  1. If applicable: Immigration (first, second generation) experience. Relatives in the area?
  • Mama A and Papa W are first generation with permanent residency status
  • No relatives in the area but they maintain strong connections with them
  1. Funds of knowledge, cultural competencies, difficulties encountered (e.g., prejudice, discrimination).
  • Very happy home, church and school environment
  • After 15 years and only under the Trump administration did their family experience scrutiny for their nationality and culture in the school setting where her son was asked by another student if he was undocumented.
  1. The educational experience from the family’s perspectives

This family has had no issues with enrollment and supporting their children in their school. Interactions with teachers and administrators have been and continue to be proactive. They are very satisfied with the schools in their area. Despite one of their sons delay in classifying him with dyslexia, there has been nothing but support and good experiences. Both their sons have IEPs and have been given the services they need to do comfortably well in their school district. Both daughters (ENL students) are soaring in their dual language cultural identities both academically and socially in their school environments as their family actively takes part in their DL program. This is working well for them. If it were not for this, they would not have had the same positive impact on their progress since Honduras’ bilingual schools would not have been feasible because they are very expensive.  Also, Honduras does not have a system for support of children with special needs. This explains the educational experience from the family’s perspectives.

Part II: Analysis

In an effort to develop an understanding of how language and culture interact in the formation of the student’s identity, I found that “little miss X” and her sister, “Miss Y” and their brothers have assimilated with both mainstream American and Latin American culture via a strong family support system and an active church community. Even more so, by little Miss X and Miss Y, whose participation in a DL program at their public school have amalgamated their student identity. Since kindergarten, they have had both their L1 and L2 embedded in academic content. A third-grade teacher I observed teaching “little miss X” (Mr. EZ) said they’ve utilized educational resources in two languages: Journeys (English) and counterpart, Senderos (Spanish) reading programs among other dual language materials. We discussed the limits of translation in a bilingual classroom setting, the use of code-switching and translanguaging, using the arts for bilingualism and biliteracy; and reading aloud in bilingual settings. “Little Miss X” has grasped onto components of culture in a modernized society as mentioned by Haiyan Gu in “Developing Related Cultural Awareness in TEFL”, where Gu (Gu, 2017, p.472) clearly states that language learning cannot be separated from culture. He says the most important components of culture in a modernized society must be included because it is the language that is already embedded in the culture. These components are the system of belief, customs, morals and emotion of the target culture and language teaching should occur in conjunction with the related culture. It is a symbolic communication. Gu clarifies for us that culture has been defined by different perspectives (Gu, 2017). From my own performance artist standpoint, I’d say culture is defined as the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.  However, in terms of society, culture is often defined as the customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social groups. He finally concludes that a commonly accepted view is that culture is the common knowledge and values that people of a particular group share.5

As far as identifying any cross-cultural conflicts apparent in the interview process, I identified none. Understanding that cross-cultural misunderstandings or conflict may arise whenever there are cultural differences, I was mindful but had none nor did I see any potential of them in foresight. In fact, some potential causes or situations in which conflicts or misunderstandings can happen such as misunderstandings or conflict between different nationalities, religious or ethnic groups, did not occur because both the family and myself are of the same religion and the same ethnic group. I was aware of invisible culture knowing when teachers focus on visible culture at the expense of invisible culture, students of all ages may do poorly and in worse cases become radicalized. One case study notes, Iraqi (Kurdish and Irabic) students were doing poorly in achieving academically in the classroom. According to Reyes, it was very likely they were not adapting well to western thought based curriculum that was culturally alien to them.  The western thought paradigm which merges Judeo/Christian values with evidence-based approach to scientific knowledge is difficult for non-westerners to access. For example, although Tamerlan Tsnarnaev, a college student and permanent resident (now known as the Boston bomber) enrolled in college as an english as a second language learner, he never quite assimilated. He eventually upset services at a local mosque with a denunciation of Martin Luther King Jr. and Thanksgiving. He could not understand when teachers focussed on explicit culture nor could he tolerate it. This problem affected his younger brother who was also a college student that became radicalized. Without the knowledge of the intangible aspects of culture the teacher risks overvaluing or undervaluing said culture’s differences unintentionally. It may also cause confusion. Unlike this starkly different occurrence, this family has nothing close to signs of radicalization or difficulty in the formation of a productive student identity. Cultural boundaries and cultural borders were simple and mutually understood throughout the interview process as well.

In order to distinguish between cultural boundary and a cultural border, the Dual Language/DL teacher and I briefly discussed what it means in a DL classroom verses a TEFL classroom. Similar to what the author uses in chapter 2 of Multicultural Education: Issues and Perspectives, we agreed upon these distinctions by utilizing this example where they argue that what happened in a sequence on page 33 was ‘‘cultural.’’ The teacher had chosen to make a moment in the reading lesson a practice session in cultural ways of speaking rather than using that moment as an opportunity for teaching children the sense of the words they were reading aloud. According to Banks, this put the spotlight of public attention on a subtle cultural difference, but it did so in an indirect way that was confusing for the students. The appearance of a small feature in pronunciation style (deletion of final t) became the occasion for the teacher’s making a big thing of a small cultural difference. But the teacher did not explain that, so it was not clear to the children that what was being asked of them was to participate in a practice session in cultural style in talking. (Banks & McGee Banks, 34) Aligning the objectives from the start would have been more effective (SIOP model). Completing the lesson by restating the objectives met or unmet would clarify what was being asked of students. However, in a DL classroom, mistakes are often made and are never critiqued because they are viewed as part of the intricate process of oral language development. What makes this distinction important is the influence on student’s understanding. Chapter 2 considers that the choice of focus by the teacher as an example of treating a feature of cultural difference as a cultural border matter rather than as a cultural boundary matter. As DL Teachers, we have a great deal of discretion in how we frame and deal with cultural difference in the classroom—as border or as boundary. Specifically, it is “The way we choose to frame cultural difference that has a profound influence on students’ understanding of what is being asked of them instructionally and on their motivation to learn” (Banks, 34).

As far as selecting appropriate teaching techniques based on knowledge of students’ cultural backgrounds, Mr. EZ, their DL teacher, uses what comes closest to the  Communication Language Teaching Method and most of his instruction is born from academic texts so reading, writing, listening and speaking are all incorporated in this family’s native language. For example, in an effort to name, list by standard, and explore three important Common Core Standards as they relate to DL’s and Multicultural Sensitivity, I listed the following with relevant details as to how he explored them:

STANDARDS: RI.3.4, L3.4a, L3.6, RI.3.7

RI.3.4 – Vocabulary Activity includes use of technology & visuals in Spanish.

Mr. EZ’s room and monitor/screen

Luz classroom

L3.4a – To determine or clarify the meaning of  “Langostas” he compared a lobster and a locust which can both be defined as “langosta” in Spanish. An African locust was also compared to a Long Island grasshopper (one has longer antennae).

L3.6 – To acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate conversational general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, including those that signal spatial and temporal relationships he discussed on how African locusts are located on a different continent as compared to locust found in the U.S.A. He encouraged them to take note of the reasons why they migrate, where they are from, how far they travel as well as what harm they can cause.

R.I.3.7 – He explains how specific aspects of a text’s illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story (e.g., create mood, emphasize aspects of a character or setting)

Mr. EZ taught an ELA lesson from Senderos; a comprehensive Spanish reading and language arts program that has been specifically designed for use in dual language program and bilingual instruction program. The topic was on animals that migrate.

Luz classroom 2

In addition to Communication Language Learning Method, Mr. EZ utilizes what we would refer to as (Gary R. Howard’s) Culturally Responsive Teaching in a very receptive school environment. This includes the seven principles found in the model:

  1. “Teaching across differences” where Mr. EZ’s students are affirmed in their cultural connections by being seated in mixed performance levels of ENL. These groups of students can work cooperatively in both there L1 and L2.
  2. “Teachers are personally inviting”; so that Mr. EZ encourages with a gentle yet assertive tone consistently to speak in Spanish/English using academic language. He also utilized routine classroom management cues (ie: he says: sh-sh and they respond: sshhhh). His classroom has a rug for closer group instruction as well as 4 chairs joined to form a smaller group/section-about 5 sections total.
  3. Classroom is physically and culturally inviting: uses Smartboard, uses Journeys and Senderos; their dual language literacy program and all the student textbooks for the class are situated neatly in a designated location. Numerous visuals are provided.
  4. Students are reinforced for academic development when he reviews vocabulary before and ELA lesson to prompt foreknowledge of material about to be presented. Vocabulary activities are created with the use of technology (picture below)
  5. Instructional changes are made to accommodate differences when lesson will be conducted in Spanish but a student will insist on speaking English in response to questions regarding designated topic. He will not discourage them but will acknowledge their responses and then continue to engage them persuasively as to focussing on L2 acquisition by simply resuming in this language without switching all together.
  6. Classroom is managed with a firm, consistent loving control understanding the limits of code-switching and translanguaging for native Speakers. He also addresses their immediate and most basic needs quickly and judiciously. Fortunately, this child, Little Miss X, is at a school that is culturally responsive where the system understands the home language and the culture as assets and teachers know how to use it.
  7. Interactions stress collectively as well as individually are done with some TPR methodology.

I agree that “Singing harmony to our kids’ song rather than forcing them to always sing our song.” I agree that with all the many differences in our classroom, we need to always strive to keep improving our instruction and connect with our individual students.

  1. In order to understand the importance of the home culture and the effect on student learning, I worked with Luis Moll’s concept of Funds of Knowledge which is the knowledge base generated by families on the basis of their experiences (at work), social practices and their social history. I applied the strategies and visited their household and documented these experiences and became a learner instead of the teacher. My reality is altered by adapting this concept as I observed and asked about family routine and traditions. Mama A says they value family education and time at home and dedicate one night a week to family where they share their school experiences with one another. They also read spiritually focussed reading materials together: The Bible, etc., spend quality time, pray together and plan their weekly/Sunday church attendance as a family. This experience is instructional and is advised by their Bishop and church educational system. She constantly reinforces her children’s thinking skills and knowledge and works only part-time. They also participate in various activities outside of the home environment including soccer (the main sport in Honduras) and sports at school. Mama A always reviews homework assignments with them in English. She says they voice their basic needs in Spanish but will voice their academic concerns in English. She notices their strengths and weaknesses academically and will voice her opinion sufficiently so that it is addressed in school. She says she has not felt a victim to racism or gender bias but her middle school age daughter feels that it is more evident in her friends’ lives; especially friends of color and Latin American in Middle School. If these make a mistake, they will be reprimanded more severely than white Middle School aged students. She wants to grow up to become an immigration lawyer.
  2. In an attempt to finally seek to involve ESOL families in student learning, I discovered that Mamá A and Papa W were already aware of its importance and are consistently involved in student learning by reading as a family 2-3 times a week in the L2. Mama A speaks to them in their L1 as well. Consistent and even laborious communication between teachers and administrators is considered important to Family AB. Mama A says its a must since she believes their children’s achievement is dependent upon the interdependent nature of their involvement with the school, teachers, staff and administration.



  1. Physical characteristics of the home (if interviews are conducted in the home);

Luz family 2

The home[1] is a 400K house on a hill of a narrow two-way street. Interview took place in a small and very clean house on the top of a hill by a narrow two-way street. They have a small clean living room with sofa, love seat and wall TV with family pictures. Family AB has a Chihuahua dog greeter that sits on a lounge chair after he greets.

  1. Community characteristics;

An affluent area.

Luz family 2

Luz Race


Demographic/background information;

  1. Educational background of parents; ages and grades of the children;

Mama A was not educated in the US. Neither was Dad. Young Mr. B age: 22 – HS Grad., Miss Y age: 14 – 8th grade, Little Mr. W – 10 – 5th grade, 8 – 3rd grade

  1. If applicable: Immigration experience (How/why they decide to come to the U.S. or the third country? What was it like?); Seeking a better life for herself and her three-year-old son.
  2. Child-rearing practices and philosophy; Teach a child words of wisdom and to “Choose the Right”. “Choose the right” is a saying or motto among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that is taught to children and used by members of the church as a reminder to make choices that will help an individual to live righteously. The phrase is taken from an LDS hymn Choose the Right.
  3. Economic/work issues; None
  4. Funds of Knowledge (Luis Moll); At home interview, teach at Little Miss X’s elementary school music class and observe DL teacher teach inside the classroom and participate and observe in 1st grade DL teaching
  5. Perspectives about education. What is a well-educated child? During the interview, Mama A says “The future depends on a well-educated child.”

What are the roles of families and schools in children’s education?  Mama A says “Both are very important because we can motivate them at home but if they don’t have the correct support; such as well trained teachers who understand the student’s culture and their academic needs then they will not progress.”

  1. Experiences with children’s school(s). “We’ve had a lot of good experiences at the Elementary School. Teachers, nurses and aids are very kind. They know all the students by name. It’s important to know that they all know your kids and they know the parents. I’m not in the PTA but they know me.”

Types of support they have received;

2 have IEPs and 2 have/are participating in a dual language program at their school.

  1. Misunderstandings, difficulties and challenges and how they have handled them;

There have been no misunderstanding or difficulties worth mentioning.

  1. What do these families want their children’s teachers and administrators to know about them and their children?

This family wants their children’s teachers and administrators to know that they are hard-working and responsible children that hope and aspire to be educated and become professionals.

Part III: Conclusions and Recommendations

The meaning of this study is derived in the prospects that I, a student, am to better understand the role of culture in student learning and engagement. Prior to conducting this study, I did not expect to find so much information about family and CLD families interconnection with teachers and administrators at the site. It was a culturally responsive school at the end of the day. My assumptions and beliefs change as a result of this experience because my views are multi-dimensional versus two-dimensional. The knowledge I acquired that I wish to share with other PK-12 teachers is that having a perspective that leads to compassion and understanding for CLD families is a must. In order to improve programs for culturally and linguistically diverse families, one should improve the understanding of faculty and staff about CLD families.

In order to provide specific, concrete examples of things teachers and schools can do to:

  1. Improve the understanding of faculty and staff about CLD families

I recommend more dual language programs embedded in the conviction to promote students achievement with a multicultural perspective. Reinforce the five conditions to promote students achievement with a multicultural perspective which are namely:

  1. School reform would be anti-racist and anti-biased.
  2. School reform should reflect an understanding and acceptance of all students as having talents and strengths that can enhance their education.
  3. School reform should be considered within the parameters of critical pedagogy.
  4. The people most intimately connected with teaching and learning (teachers, parents, and students themselves) need to be meaningfully involved in school reform.
  5. School reform needs to be based on high expectations and rigorous standards for all learners.
  6. Proactively develop stronger school-family partnerships through ongoing communication between teachers, parents and students.
  7. Adorn and make their schools and classrooms more welcoming places for CLD & non-native English speaking families and connect students’ funds of knowledge to instruction. Teachers should endeavor to make the classroom welcoming to the student through pictures, and colorful visuals as well as variety of books about different cultures including their own (samples shown below).

Part IV: Personal Reflections

Through this project I have learned to better understand the role of culture in student learning and engagement and I reflect on my preconceptions on language learning and multicultural books and stories that were utilized in the dual language curriculum that this family takes part in. I now understood, most importantly, what Luis Moll says about Funds of Knowledge and “how teachers experiences (live) interact with the academic and pedagogical knowledge their supposed to master as professional educators. He says “There is always a filter in acquiring these more academic concepts: social and emotional experiences of our lives so in a sense the teachers’ funds of knowledge become part and parcel of that element needed to assimilate that pedagogical knowledge and become an outstanding teacher.”[2]

My preconception about language learning is based on the notion that English from Great Britain and Castilian Spanish were considered pure, perfect and the true standard; borrowing, compounding, and cropping was a sign of a debased idiom. In fact, the notion that American English was eventually considered better than British English is new to me. I’d considered Castilian Spanish and British English of equal standard. I seemed to have believed that it was the standard that I never thought could be toppled over as pretentious as that sounds. And yet, I’m sure that it is what people thought when Latin was toppled over by a mere Germanic dialect! Yet, I welcome this new perspective whole-heartedly as an American. I’ve heard L2 learners speak and change the language before and sympathized. Now I consider it ingenious! As a music educator, I am adopting ELL methods like Suggestopedia and Jazz chants as I grapple with students’ oral language development. My preconceptions about language learning and, by extension, what is involved in oral language development? Input, Output, and interaction were interpreted by a musical standpoint which hones in on the National Standards for Music Education 2014; Connect #11: Relate musical ideas and works with varied context to deepen understanding. At first, I thought it was easy because for me since it is intuitive to chant or sing having been a singer for decades. The term “Jazz Chants” was unfamiliar to me but the approach looked so familiar that I decided to adopt it. But in my opinion, if I really want to adapt it to my teaching method, I needed to have something useful and simple.

I am happy that through this DL fieldwork experience I was given the facility to engage in teaching related fieldwork and make observations of culturally appropriate/responsive teaching practices in classrooms serving culturally, linguistically, and socio-economically diverse student populations and, by extension, reflect on those experiences in relation to theory, course objectives, and course content. Interestingly, I’ve also utilized a multicultural children’s book and created a checkers game for grade 1-3 based on the DL vocabulary found in it and created a general music lesson focused on their music genre (checkers game picture below). While doing field work at the home and school of Family AB, I have spotlighted high-quality multicultural literature in the textbook Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Journeys Anthologies and a dual language multicultural book assessed by five major characteristics: accuracy, expertise, respect, purpose, and quality. I also found one of the best selection of multicultural and social justice books for children, YA, and educators. It is a dual language book added to these for a 3rd Grade reading curriculum titled Biblioburro; A True Story from Colombia by Jeanette Winter. I also created a checkerboard game based on words found in Biblioburro; a true story from Colombia by Jeanette Winter that is a dual language book for children, YA and adults on social justice. I intend to share the game and music with Family AB.

Yet, I am somewhat limited as a permanent substitute teacher. If I found a place in a music department similar to the school site, I would work in a culturally responsive school where there is a dual language program where I could become a dual language music teacher. I would then continue my work and continually adapt my curriculum and teaching to ensure that it is culturally responsive.


Luz classroom 3

Luz classroom 5.png


  1. Banks, J. A., & McGee Banks, C. A. (2010). Multicultural Education: Issues and Perspectives (7th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
  2. “Teaching in 2 Languages: A Guide for K-12 Bilingual Educators” by Sharon Adelman Reyes

& Tatyana Kleyn Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin/Sage, 2010. ISBN: 978-1-4129-7802-6.

  1. Common core state standards initiative found in url: ​http://www.corestandards.org/read-the-standards/ (Links to an external site.) Links to an external site.
  2. Huntington, New York (NY 11743) profile: population, maps, real estate, averages, homes, statistics, relocation, travel, jobs, hospitals, etc. http://www.city-data.com/city/Huntington-New-York.html
  3. Gu, H. (2018). “Developing Related Cultural Awareness in TEFL”, Advances in Social Sciences, Education and Humanities Research, volume 185 6th International Conferences in Social Sciences, Education and Humanities Research (SSEHR 2017), p. 472.

[1] From the url: http://www.city-data.com/city/Huntington-New-York.html

[2] Funds of Knowledge for Teaching: Using a Qualitative Approach to Connect Homes and Classrooms Author(s): Luis C. Moll, Cathy Amanti, Deborah Neff, Norma Gonzalez

Source: Theory into Practice, Vol. 31, No. 2, Qualitative Issues in Educational Research (Spring, 1992), pp. 132-141 Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.

Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1476399Accessed: 17/02/2010 17:44

From the Url: https://rylak.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/moll-et-al-1992.pdf


Reflections on Educational Equality for Students with Disabilities by Touro TESOL teacher candidate Kevin Mongan

As a Professor for TESOL and Bilingual Education, I focus on different domains during our semester-long journey.  This blog features Touro TESOL teacher candidate Kevin Mongan, a Social Studies Teacher from Sachem Central School District. He is seeking his TESOL Certificate to better assist his English Language Learner population and better himself as an educator. He appreciates the hard work and dedication of the Touro College Faculty and Staff.

This weeks focus are on:

Domain 2 – Culture (TESOL Domains )
Standard: Nature and Role of Culture

Candidates know, understand, and use the major concepts, principles, theories, and
research related to the nature and role of culture in language development and
academic achievement that support individual students’ learning.

Domain 3: Planning, Implementing, and Managing Instruction
Standard: Planning for Standards-Based ESL and Content Instruction
Candidates know, understand, and apply concepts, research, and best practices to
plan classroom instruction in a supportive learning environment for ESOL students.
Candidates serve as effective English-language models, as they plan for multilevel
classrooms with learners from diverse backgrounds using standards-based ESL and
content curriculum.

Reflective Journal:

In “Chapter 13: Educational Equality for Students with Disabilities,” written by Sara C. Bicard and William L. Heward, Multicultural Education: Issues and Perspectives by James A. Banks and Cherry A. McGee Banks, the reader is posed with a question that reaches into the core of every teacher: Am I providing ALL of my students with the best education I can provide for them? The authors present a statement very early in their piece:

The skill differences among most children are relatively small, allowing these children to benefit from the general education program offered by their schools. When the physical, social, and academic skills of children differ to such an extent that typical school curricula or teaching methods are neither appropriate nor effective, however, equitable access to and benefits from educational programs are at stake. (Bicard, p. 315)

Every teacher has had at least one moment where they asked themselves, am I doing enough? When students with disabilities, whether physical, social, or academic, are not being given the proper tools to succeed in their learning environment, they will not succeed. It is up to the classroom teacher, administration, family at home, and the students to make sure that their needs for success are constantly being maintained inside and outside of the classroom.

color coded 3
The authors explain how students with disabilities are identified and classified, how students with disabilities do not benefit from a single change to the classroom environment, and also, how not all students with disabilities will benefit from the same accommodations. The classification system for students with disabilities is often targeted as a problem than as a system that can lead to solutions. “Some educators believe the classification and labeling of exceptional students serve only to stigmatize and exclude them from the mainstream of educational opportunities” (p. 319). “Others argue that a workable system of classification is necessary to obtain the special education services and programs that are prerequisite to educational equality for exceptional students” (p. 319.) If labels and classifications are not present, how can general education teachers, special education teachers, parents, various professionals whose sole duty is to help the child, communicate common goals for the student? Real issues need real solutions and without having a real comprehension of the task at hand for all parties involved, the student can never benefit from any services provided because there would be no goal to reach or endgame in sight.

The authors then embark on a legislative study on how students with disabilities have been treated in the public education system of the United States. When students with disabilities were brought into public schools they were immediately judged and labeled, often cast aside and not granted access to the public school system. Students were labeled by their teachers as “slow learners” and “disciplinary problems” when they would act out in class, from the frustration of not understanding the material (p.320-321). In Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954), “the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that education must be available to all children on equal terms and that is unconstitutional to operate segregated schools under the premise that they are separate but equal” (p. 321). For most students and teachers, this case falls under the constructs of African-Americans and the Civil Rights Movement, however, to parents of children with disabilities, this ruling pushed the door wide open for students with disabilities to have the right for the best education they can receive in their local public school district. Laws would be created to further protect the right and liberties of those with disabilities, but under the amendments of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, which renamed it the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), it “ensure[s] the rights of students with disabilities to a free appropriate public education, including early intervention services, and to provide the necessary supports for oversight for states, districts, schools, and educators to improve the educational results for students with disabilities” (p.322).

The final area of concern for the authors is the inequality and discrimination that students from “culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds” often face in special education. They are often overrepresented or underrepresented. The authors ask educators to focus on three specifics when it comes to students of culturally and linguistically diverse students: the assessment and placement procedures are sensitive to the student’s culture and language, appropriate services are provided to that students with their linguistic and cultural needs in mind, and lastly, that teachers and other professionals who work with the student understand the student’s culture and home values. “The instructional materials that educators use and the methods that they employ while teaching must be responsive to the differing cultural backgrounds of their students” (p. 334). Every professional that interacts with students with disabilities must contribute to the betterment of the students’ lives. It requires work on the professional’s part: not just teaching the curriculum as is, but adapting the curriculum every day to fit the needs of their student’s body. Respectful and sensitive teachers will make the special education setting a more trustworthy and worthwhile environment for students with disabilities.

2) Initial Emotional Response:
I have always found that pieces about students with disabilities always bring out a passion within me as an educator. I believe the root of passion is frustration. I try to provide my students with the best education possible and I know there is nothing I can control about what has happened before they walk through my classroom door, but I always encourage them to be the best students they can be, to always ask for help if they need it, and to truly give it their all. In turn, I will provide them with the best education I can. I know that not all teachers extend so much of themselves into the classroom and into the lives of their students but at least I know I am doing my part. We, as educators, always need to be advocates for our students. If they are struggling, our job is to get down to the root of the problem. Why are they struggling, what can I help them with, where can I access resources to provide them with the help that they need? All of these questions should flow through the mind of a passionate educator when their students struggle. To quote Bicard, “Good teachers must…be responsive to changes (or lack of changes) in individual students’ performance” (p. 334). We always need to be invested in the betterment of the lives of our students. If we are not, why do we do it?

3) Prior Assumption/Opinion
As an educator, I had always assumed that students with disabilities have been slowly but surely been granted the rights to an equal and equitable public education over time. Just African-Americans, women, and Native Americans had to wait for the right to vote, as African-Americans had to wait for equal access to public education, and as Civil Liberties were protected under the law for all Americans, students with disabilities received equal protection under the law as people fought for the rights of their children and their students. In a country where “all men are created equal,” it is often forgotten that most Americans had to wait, fight, and wait a little longer to be fully protected by the legislative body of the U.S. government.

4) Source of Assumption
As a social studies teacher, I discuss the protection of freedoms regularly. But rarely do we discuss the freedoms of the student or the freedoms of the education that we are entitled to as Americans. We have to consistently wait for, fight for, and plead for equality across all facets of American life, but at least we know, that all have access to a free, public education. It is what we do with that access that defines our futures.
5) Assumption Check
According to Bicard and Williams, “Teachers must have the knowledge and skills to recognize and to be instructionally responsive to the diversity their students represent…[the chapter] lays the foundations for teachers to examine educational equity for learners with diverse skills” (p. 316). Most teachers assume they can spot a student’s issues or disabilities from a specific assessment or from simple encounters with the student. Educators understand that students with disabilities have rights, but teachers have the responsibility to make sure that those rights are not only be protected, but they are being fulfilled through every single school day for the betterment of the lives of their students. Educators must continue to challenge the educational hierarchy so that they can provide their students with most fair educational system that can be created. Bicard and Williams said, “All students are alike in that they can benefit from an appropriate education that enables them to do things they were previously unable to do and to do things with greater independence and enjoyment” (p. 317). If educators can provide their students with the skills and necessaries to become as independent of the teacher as possible, lifelong learners can be created and nurtured.

6) Realization (Epiphany):
Educators need to always fight for the rights of their students. If teachers can unite under a common banner of student equity and teacher responsibility for their students, then teachers will work harder for their students. Teachers should not be judged for how their students perform on tests, teachers should be observed and guided toward creating a more positive, nurturing, and safe learning environment for their students. Encourage teachers to get to know their kids, to invite students up to their classrooms to eat lunch, to actively seek out parental involvement rather than avoiding them like the plague. Teachers should not be in the profession for the paycheck. They should be in the profession to foster passion in their subject area, to provoke thought, to provoke future citizenry and change, and to create future leaders of the world. The first thing that teachers need to do, as a whole, is a smile. Too many educators walk through the halls with a look of gloom and dissatisfaction on their faces. Say hello to a student, a colleague, a custodian, a secretary, and if you can’t take the moment to get a word out of your mouth, at least smile.
7) Implication of Future Teaching Practice:
Making sure every single one of our students has access to every resource we can guarantee them. Making sure our culturally and linguistically diverse student populations have the resources they need to succeed, not only within the four walls of the classroom, but in every hallway, every room, and in every step, they take inside and outside of school. Students from diverse backgrounds need to know where to access resources that can assist them and their families whenever they want them. A true teacher makes time for all of their students and makes time to make sure that all of their students are being taken care of. We may not have control over what happens in our students’ lives when they walk out of our classrooms, but we can encourage them to seek assistance, show them where resources are, and be a resource for them whenever they need it. I know that I can become better by making sure all of my students’ needs are being met. I do not keep a good record of the resources my students utilize and the accommodations that my students utilize as well. We often find ourselves separated from the other departments, but just as Bicard said, “our kids,” is becoming and needs to continue becoming the terminology used when describing our student body, if we truly want to watch a positive learning environment take hold.

Banks, J. A., & Banks, C. A. M. G. (2004). Multicultural education: Issues and perspectives. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley.

Gender Bias- From Colonial America to Today’s Classrooms by Touro GSE TESOL Candidate Amanda Giarrizzo

In order to detect gender biases in curriculum materials, there are seven components to analyze: invisibility, stereotyping, imbalance and selectivity, unreality, fragmentation, linguistic bias, and cosmetic bias.
“Occasionally, teachers divide their classrooms along gender-segregated lines in groups, work and play areas, and seating; more frequently, students gender-segregate themselves (Banks & McGee Banks, pg. 147).”

For EDPN 671 Theory and Practice of Bilingual and Multicultural Education, I focus on Domain 2. Culture: Candidates know, understand, and use major concepts, principles, theories, and research related to the nature and role of culture and cultural groups to construct supportive learning environments for ELLs.

Standard 2. Culture as It Affects Student Learning – Candidates know, understand, and use major theories and research related to the nature and role of culture in their instruction. They demonstrate understanding of how cultural groups and individual cultural identities affect language learning and school achievement.

Supporting Explanation.

Candidates recognize that language and culture interact in the formation of students’ cultural identities. They further recognize that students’ identities are tied closely to their sense of self‐worth, which is correlated to their academic achievement. Candidates know that all students can learn more readily when cultural factors are recognized, respected, and accommodated, and they demonstrate that knowledge in their practice. They further understand that students’ academic achievement can suffer if classroom instruction does not respect students’ cultural identities.

Here a reflection by Amanda Giarrizzo who is currently in her 5th year of teaching and 3rd year as a Special Education Teacher. She currently teaches 3rd grade ICT at the Jamaica Children’s School in Queens. This is Amanda’s last semester as a graduate student in the Touro TESOL Masters program.

Multicultural Education: Issues and Perspectives, Chapter 6: Gender Bias- From Colonial America to Today’s Classrooms

(Banks, J. A., & McGee Banks, C. A. (2010)

by Amanda Giarrizzo

When comparing Colonial America classrooms to today’s there are many differences. In Colonial America, few girls were able to attend school. When the girls did attend school, they were not receiving the same formalized instruction as boys. The boys would learn writing and concepts necessary in order for them to further their education; on the other hand, girls would learn how to become housewives. The girls would be taught how to be in the kitchen and caretaking skills. During this time, gender biases originated. Over time, slowly but surely, women were extending their educations. However, they were still not equal to males. Title IX was a big stepping stone for females, not only in education but in the world. Title IX of 1972 states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance (Banks & McGee Banks, pg. 140).” Title IX support women in sports, education, employment, and health.”

Unfortunately, despite the advancement of women gender bias still exists in classrooms today. The main two places where gender biases exist in schools today are with the curriculum and interactions. Curriculum content is an extremely influential part of student’s lives because this is what helps them understand concepts. However, if the curriculum contains gender biases, then students will think that biases and stereotypes are typical and accepted. This is why educators must assess curriculum materials and determine if they are gender fair. Many books in curriculums nowadays present gender biases, by including male dominance, women and men in “traditional” careers, male aggressiveness, boys causing trouble, male-centered stories, brave boys, and helpless girls.  In order to detect gender biases in curriculum materials, there are seven components to analyze: invisibility, stereotyping, imbalance and selectivity, unreality, fragmentation, linguistic bias, and cosmetic bias. Invisibility refers to the fact that within the materials there is not teaching about certain groups or events. Stereotyping refers to pointing out certain roles or having “stereotypical” traits portrayed by certain groups of people. Linguistic bias refers to using language/words to create a bias between groups of people. Imbalance refers to holding a single interpretation of any issue. Unreality refers to ignoring the full reality of nations. Fragmentation refers to separating discussions into different viewpoints. Lastly, cosmetic bias refers to creating a false picture of the material presented inside of a text. For example, the pictures on the outside of the materials may pretend to be diversified, but the actual content does not connect (Banks & McGee Banks, pg. 143-144). The other place that gender biases exist in classrooms is social interactions. Teachers may not even realize they are being gender biased during classroom routines and activities, but it is likely. Instances, where teachers do not redirect certain students for talking out of turn, can turn into a gender bias. For example, the author discusses an instance wherein a classroom boys are calling out and responding to each other’s answers, without raising their hand and being called on. It is not until a girl calls out that the teacher redirects the students to raise their hand (Banks & McGee Banks, pg. 145-146). This is considered bias because the boys did not get redirected, but the girl did. “Occasionally, teachers divide their classrooms along gender-segregated lines in groups, work and play areas, and seating; more frequently, students gender-segregate themselves (Banks & McGee Banks, pg. 147).” This is another example of how gender biases exist in classrooms. It is essential we limit these instances, in order to promote gender fairness.

In the end, there are a few steps that can be taken in order to create a gender-fair classroom. Steps that are important to take include analyzing materials and textbooks that you are teaching from. In order to stop biases, we need to show them to students and confront them. It is encouraged to do so when engaging in everyday content lessons.  Another suggestion is for your students to create a list of famous men and women. As a class, you should analyze the data gained and identify patterns. If you notice that you are not equal with learning about both genders, then make a change. Third, it is important to analyze your own classroom groupings and seatings. It is important to diversify these groups by all different factors, in order to ensure equality. Fourth, it is important to enforce a no tolerance rule with negative language use. It is imperative to create an environment where everyone is accepted; promoting acceptance can guide the way for students to be respectful to all. Lastly, extend your own knowledge and professional learning on gender equity. It is imperative to understand gender fairness, in order to reinforce it (Banks & McGee Banks, pgs. 151-152). To conclude, it is essential we analyze our curriculum and interactions with our students in order to promote gender fairness. Once these are monitored and actions are taken, gender equity in classrooms will be more noticeable.

  1. Initial Emotional Response (surprised, embarrassed, sad, inspired, excited, puzzled, etc.)

I was surprised to find out about the different ways gender bias is identified in school. I was excited and inspired to read about the history of women overcoming and lessening biases in different environments. I was inspired to hear about ways to create a gender-fair classroom.

Learning Process

  1.  Prior Assumptions or Opinions about the described highlight

I assumed that gender bias in education, meant to only have one gender of students participate in activities. I also assumed that it meant that one gender was becoming overrepresented during classroom discussions. I figured that gender bias could be considered when there are boys teams vs. girl teams, or solely boys tables and solely girls tables within the room. I essentially assumed that the gender bias had to specifically segregate the two genders.

I believed that gender bias also included when someone makes comments about gender and stereotypes, such as women belong in the kitchen, men are the alphas, men need to work, women can’t do that. All of these are showing a bias against the other sex because they are saying one sex is more prevalent in instances than the other.

  1.  Source of Assumption or Opinion

I assumed that gender bias meant to only have one gender of students participate in activities because of the definition of the words gender and bias. The word gender refers to someone’s sex: female or male. The word bias refers to being in favor of or against one specific group. In this case, I assumed that gender bias in education meant that the teacher would be in favor (bias) of one gender of students having them be the ones to participate in activities, participate in classroom discussions, sit at tables together, complete tasks in groups together, or have teams together. Another reason why I believed that this was gender bias, was because in high school my 7th grade Social Studies teacher was sexist (or showed gender biases). In his class, the girls would try to participate and raise their hands to volunteer many times; however, the teacher chose a boy majority of the time. The teacher was a football coach and knew many of the boys from there, he would choose his players more often than anyone else. In addition, there were many instances throughout the year, where the teacher would not allow females to use the bathroom during his class. However, the teacher would allow the boys to use the bathroom and get water. This experience made me aware of some forms of gender biases that are present in classrooms.

My assumption of gender biases having to do with the language people use against someone’s sex came from personal experiences and previous education. When I was in highschool I learned about different biases and stereotypes that exist within the world. Within my history classes, I learned what a bias was and how people use language in order to show they are biased. I was able to apply that knowledge to understand that using derogatory language towards a gender, would be considered having a bias.

5. Assumption/Opinion Check – Validation/Invalidation

My assumption what gender bias in education meant, only having one gender participate in classroom activities was validated in a few different ways when reading the Bank’s. The text states:

“Occasionally, teachers divide their classrooms along gender-segregated lines in groups, work and play areas, and seating; more frequently, students gender-segregate themselves (Banks & McGee Banks, pg. 147).”

This shows that gender segregation is a form of gender bias. In the chapter, the author discusses an instance wherein a classroom boys are calling out and responding to each other’s answers without raising their hand and being called on. It is not until a girl calls out that the teacher redirects the students to raise their hand (Banks & McGee Banks, pg. 145-146). This form of bias shows a male-dominated conversation and different expectations for students of different genders. This example supports gender bias being only one gender participating in classroom activities specifically, discussions.

My assumption of gender bias having to do with the language that people use against someone’s gender was validated many times throughout the chapter. The text states,

“Linguistic Bias: Words Count- Language can be a powerful conveyor of bias in both blatant and subtle forms. The exclusive use of masculine terms and pronouns, ranging from our forefathers, mankind, and businessman to the generic he, denies the full participation and recognition of women. More subtle examples include word orders and choices that place males in a primary role, such as “men and their wives.” (Banks & McGee, pg. 145)”

This paragraph describes how word choice, which is language, can be used to show a bias against someone’s gender. In addition, the textbook gives suggestions on how to create a gender-fair classroom. Within the suggestions, there is one that refers to the language used within your classroom. “Do no say “boys will be boys” to excuse sexist comments or behaviors… As a teacher, you are the model and the norm setter: “If you do not tolerate hurtful prejudice, your students will learn to honor and respect each other.” (Banks & McGee, pg. 152)” This shows how language can represent gender biases.

6. Realization/Aha Moment or Epiphany

Now I realize that there are many different ways that you can be gender-biased in a classroom. I realize that not being consistent with enforcing expectations for all students, can be considered a gender bias. I now know that I have to be more consistent with instructing ALL students to follow the same set of rules, at all times. I know that I cannot have some students speak out (and not redirect them to follow the expectation) but then redirect another student for doing the same thing. This instance is considered biased and now I know that no matter what the situation I need to reinforce the expectations.

I also realized that some of the texts and materials that are used to instruct the students are gender biased. The chapter book Peter Pan is one that I used to teach my students about character traits, motivation, and actions. Throughout this book, there are many examples of gender bias. Within Peter Pan, Wendy is portrayed as the mother of the boys. Peter asks her to stay in Neverland in order to take care of the Lost Boys. This supports the stereotype that all women should become mothers and stay home taking care of the men/boys. Due to this stereotype, the book is gender biased.  Furthermore, the Lost Boys, Wendy’s brothers, and Peter Pan are always the ones to fight off the bad guys and protect Wendy. This could be viewed as a gender bias as well, signifying Wendy can’t defend herself or that the men always have to be the protectors.

I am also thinking back to when I was in high school. We read books such as to Kill a Mockingbird. Within To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout was considered a tomboy because of the way that she dressed, she wore overalls all the time. In addition, she was considered a tomboy because of the way she played, she enjoyed being outdoors and participating in activities that took place outdoors. This is gender bias because it is portraying girls as not being allowed to enjoy the outdoors and dress in a certain way.

Another realization is that most content I teach provides an imbalance of genders. If I asked the students (like the text suggested) to create a list of famous men and women, they would probably write down more men. This shows me that our curriculum is gender bias toward women. Moreover, during the winter break, my students were tasked with researching a famous African American for Black History Month. 11/12 of the boys in my class researched and completed their project on a male and 8/9 girls researched/completed their project on a famous woman. This could be because the girls wanted to learn about more women since they don’t. It could also be that the boys are more comfortable learning about men.

7. Implications for future teaching practice

In the future, I will alter a few approaches to my teaching in order to foster a gender-fair classroom. First, I will definitely be sure to reinforce following the expectations for all students. I will try to not let any friends speak out of turn, without being redirected to follow the expectation. This may sound something like, “Please make sure you follow the expectation of raising a quiet hand to speak. When you do so, you may share your answer.” In order to ensure and monitor that I am following through with this expectation, I will use a talking piece for classroom discussions or questioning. During this time, only the person who is holding the talking piece (because they have met the expectation on how to raise a silent hand) will be able to share their response/thoughts. Having this talking piece will hopefully help me redirect other students to follow the expectations, and minimize the number of times I show bias with redirecting some students, but not all.

Another way I can foster a gender-fair classroom is by infusing more women profiles in our social studies curriculum. I only spent one day talking about women in history, for the month of March. The students were able to choose an influential woman from a list, research her, and provide some facts about her on a worksheet. The students were then tasked with creating a postage stamp to represent that woman and why she is important. I feel as though, one day was not enough to suffice for the amount of learning about men we do. I believe that during March, Women’s history month, the students should be learning about influential women that helped shape today’s world. In order to not stray completely from the Social Studies curriculum, I figured we could research important women in the different cultures we are learning about. For example, we are learning about China right now. We can research influential women that contributed to China’s success or influential Chinese women in our country, who are successful and important. If this is not an option, we should at least be spending two weeks researching women influencers. This will create a gender-fair classroom because most of the people we seem to focus on in history are men.


Banks, J. A., & McGee Banks, C. A. (2010). Multicultural Education: Issues and Perspectives (7th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Alexa Santo, Touro GSE Teacher Candidate on Linguistic Diversity

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Alexa Santo is a teacher candidate at the Touro Graduate School of Education, TESOL and Bilingual Department.  She is 23 years old and a first-year Spanish teacher in New York City with a passion for languages and cultures. Alexa looks forward to creating inclusive classroom environments celebrating all aspects of diversity in her classroom.

Alexa’s thoughtful reflection on linguistic diversity grew out of readings and discussions on multicultural inclusiveness and creating welcoming classrooms for all children.

Diversity is brought to the United States every day. New immigrants are coming from Asia, Africa, and Latin America (Stritikus & Varghese, 2010, 285). These immigrants are not easily accepted by the mainstream culture in society, which is portrayed in the school system as well. “The strongly negative attitudes toward immigrant students in U.S. society influence these students’ perceptions of U.S. schooling” (Stritikus & Varghese, 2010, 289). The new wave of immigrants faces different challenges than of the European immigrants from the 1900s. This new wave has one crucial difference, skin color. The immigrants are placed into an “hourglass society” where social mobility is limited (Stritikus & Varghese, 2010, 288). The neighborhood where they choose to live will influence where their children go to school. These new students are changing the dynamic of American public schools linguistically and culturally. The schools are getting a flux of new cultures and languages into the classrooms due to the linguistic diversity of each student. Through linguistic diversity comes dialect variations to the classroom. “Dialect variation contributes to our diverse tapestry of language use” (Stritikus & Varghese, 2010, 289). “Educational practices in the United States embrace the idea that standard English should be the dominant variety of language used in all written and oral language communication (Stritikus & Varghese, 2010, 290). One of the primary dialects in the public schools is the Black dialect, or Ebonics (Stritikus & Varghese, 2010, 290. Many African American students find themselves in low-level tracks with limited educational opportunities. Teachers need to focus on the main goal that students successfully use academic English ( Stritikus & Varghese, 2010, 297).

Reading through this chapter brought a lot of confusion, surprise, and shock. Through exploring this chapter, it was the first time I ever read or saw the word, “Ebonics”. I was not sure what the word meant, so I started to read about “Black dialect”. I was perplexed by this term, something I have never heard before. As I read on, it surprised me that this language had its own rules and is a legitimate language. Like many others, I thought Ebonics was “slang” language and thought of it to be improper, which never had a place of value in the classroom. I never thought of African Americans have their own dialect. I have heard this dialect many times before and have repeatedly thought it sounded wrong or strange. I found myself in agreement while reading with the statement that standard English should be used in the school system, that all of the students should be held to this standard. I was taken aback when reading about the court case, Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary vs Ann Arbor. I was confused on this term of Black Dialect being a system run language because it went against everything I had ever thought. I assumed that standard English was the only correct form of English to be used. I assumed that the language I often heard from certain communities where I live to be “slang” and improper even though I heard it every day. I think this idea that this language is wrong came from my home life and my schooling. I grew up in a very Caucasian neighborhood and went to a very Caucasian dominated elementary school. Once I went to middle school and high school my schools became very diverse. I grew up hearing my family and people I knew say that the way other people talked, if it was not like us, was incorrect or slang. The words were never spoken aloud, but the impression was there, that you did not want to speak this way if you wanted to be held to a high standard. In school, children who did not speak the standard English dialect were often always corrected for the language they used in the classroom. “Goin’” was not deemed correct and the students were expected to say “going”. I have held this assumption my whole life and never heard the term Ebonics for this dialect until this article. I never considered there to be a different dialect of English besides American English and British English, which are very different. I have learned about dialects my whole academic career by studying foreign languages, but I never would have considered this language to be a dialect prior to this article. My perspective of dialect had always been a European perspective of different dialects throughout Italy and Spain. In my current classroom, I would not correct a student for speaking Ebonics because I am not an English teacher. My focus every day is more on the Spanish language, but if I were an English teacher, I probably would have corrected the students because I viewed their language as improper.

My assumption and prior perspective were invalidated by Stritikus and Varghese’s article stating that Ebonics is a real, rule-governed, systematic language. “Dialect variation tends to be associated with race, social class, and geographic region, the dialects of groups with less social power tend to be viewed as inferior or incorrect versions of standard English. This is the case with Black English (BE)—also referred to as African American vernacular English—and Black Dialect” (Stritikus & Varghese, 2010, 290). Black dialect reflects a language that stems from slave descendants with roots from African language. This language is used every day in the black community it is part of their identity and use of expression (Lee, 2017). The legitimacy of Ebonics was recognized in the Oakland school board decision of 1996. “The board resolution stated that the district’s purpose should be to facilitate the acquisition and mastery of English language skills while respecting and embracing the legitimacy and richness of different language patterns” (Stritikus & Varghese, 2010, 293). I have learned and become aware of this dialect, that I am constantly surrounded by, is a proper dialect and is a recognized language. It is a dialect that should be respected and not treated as inferior.

Prior, I thought there was one way to speak Standard English, which was the only language to be used in the classroom. Now, I can see how certain views of teachers as well as my prior misconception, can prevent academic or achievement progress of African American students. If a teacher goes into the classroom with the viewpoint that the way the students speak is improper, incorrect or unsuccessful, automatically the students are set up to fail. Through the teacher’s personal opinions being projected onto the students, they are being set up for failure because the teacher will feel they cannot succeed, therefore the student will not. Their success rate is impeded because the teacher listens to their language, tells the students it is incorrect, and the students are left puzzled because this is their normal everyday language. Also, by insinuating this idea that their language is incorrect is affecting their social identity. It is putting a negative viewpoint on their community, friends, and families. A student will not be excited to learn if they feel threatened. Expectations of the students will be altered because by viewing their language as incorrect subconsciously you have lowered your learning expectations for them. In truth, Ebonics is an English dialect, just differing linguistically and culturally from my own dialect. Although their dialect is different, does not make my dialect more correct? It does not. This dialect is their real language. The students use this dialect because it is what is spoken at home and in their community. Then when they come to school, they are told it is not acceptable, that it is not standard English. Even though the dialects differ, we are able to communicate and understand each other with common understanding. We are speaking two different dialects that can communicate, therefore students should not be penalized (Lee, 2017). I have never spoken my thoughts to the students about their different dialect, but I have had thought that their language was incorrect. It is important to remember that every student has the ability to learn. All students need to receive the same opportunities and expectations regardless if they are different than the teacher. It is not the teacher’s right to judge a student. It is the teacher’s job to teach and provide the best learning environment for the students, which not cannot have racism, bias, or negative views.

Gaining this new perspective will be crucial for my teaching career moving forward. In my classroom, I will continue to celebrate cultural diversity, but now I will include the recognition of the linguistic diversity of English. It is important to keep all of our students’ identities at the highest level of respect and that includes their language. I plan to have a welcoming classroom where each and every student feels comfortable speaking their language dialects and including their culture as Stritikus and Varghese suggest. “Maximum potential to succeed when their language and culture are used and developed in instruction” (Stritikus and Varghese, 2010, 303). A common practice of mine in the Spanish classroom is to never correct a student while he or she is speaking unless it is a crucial error because this can cause embarrassment. It will cause the students to become closed off and discourage them from participating in the future. I think this is an important strategy to include when the students are speaking English as well. If another teacher or I disrupt a student while they are speaking, they will not want to participate, and their learning will be affected. All languages and dialects will be honored in my classroom. Dialects of English different than my own will not lead to the idea of “incorrect” English, but a realization that it is different and to be honored with respect in the classroom. Teachers must do better in looking past stereotypes, our prejudices, and our preconceived notions of certain students in order to see how we can better ourselves and our curricula for the sake of teaching all students. If teachers are not culturally competent or willing to learn about their students to provide them with the best education possible, how can we expect our students, who are marginalized, to want to give us their all? Learning about all of my students’ cultures and linguistic diversity will be the major resource for my teaching. Students will benefit from cooperative learning using student-centered instruction that allows them to gain ownership of their learning (Stritikus and Varghese, 2010, 293). To gain ownership their cultural and linguistic differences need to be identified, treated respectfully, and given equal opportunities. It is imperative that instruction holds language variation and use of students’ nonacademic dialects, the connection between language and identity, and the relationships made through language (Godley & Minnici, 2008) at high importance. Every teacher needs to confront personal bias’ because students speak differently than them, has no place in the classroom. I will not let it have a place in mine.


Banks, J. A., & Banks, C. A. M. (Eds.). (2010). Multicultural education: Issues and perspectives. John Wiley & Sons

Godley, A. J., & Minnici, A. (2008). Critical Language Pedagogy in an Urban High School English Class. Urban Education,43(3), 319-346. doi:10.1177/0042085907311801

Lee, A. (2017). Why “Correcting” African American Language Speakers is Counterproductive. Language Arts Journal of Michigan,32(2). doi:10.9707/2168-149x.2162

Touro TESOL Teacher Candidate Sareska Tamayo Arias on Multicultural Education and Social Justice

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Prof. Jasmin Cowin, Ed.D.: Spring 2019 semester, one of the courses I am teaching is EDPN 671 Theory and Practice of Bilingual and Multicultural Education. This course reviews the impact of historical, legal, sociological, and political issues in relation to the education of culturally and linguistically diverse students. Students explore the evolution of attitudes regarding bilingualism and multiculturalism in the United States. Emphasis will be placed on developing multicultural competence as educators, with areas of focus including cross-cultural communication in the classroom and with parents; how the language and culture of the home and the community impact student learning; cultural factors in the relationships between the school and the community. Models of multicultural and bilingual education will be presented and analyzed. The course includes 10 hours of fieldwork.

Part of Reflective Practice is the requirement for Reflective Journal submissions twice a semester. Here an exemplary reflection by the Touro TESOL Teacher Candidate Sareska Tamayo Arias on Multicultural Education and Social Justice. Ms. Arias was born and raised in the province of Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. As a Cuban immigrant, she benefited from receiving documentation that allowed her to work, and eventually begin studying. As a result, she is on the path of earning a Bilingual Certificate that will allow her to work with Spanish-speaking students.

Ms. Sareska Tamayo Arias: Completing course’s assignment #1 led to me to browse one of the course recommended texts, Affirming Diversity: The Sociopolitical Context of Multicultural Education (4th edition), and by this, I was introduced to Sonia Nieto for the very first time in my educational career. Part of the assignment was related to stating our understanding of multicultural education. I looked for help in the additional texts. Chapter 9 of Nieto’s book is titled “Multicultural Education and School Reform” (2004, p. 345-365). When I finished reading the chapter, I felt that a veil had dematerialized. Chapter 9 presents Sonia Nieto’s definition of multicultural education. According to Nieto (2004), multicultural education includes seven characteristics: antiracist, basic, important for all students, pervasive, education for social justice, process and critical pedagogy (p. 346). Nieto states that multicultural education can be a way of transforming and enhancing the schooling of our students (p.362).

Antiracist or antidiscrimination education is identified as the core of multicultural education (Nieto, 2004). According to Nieto (2004) the existence of a multicultural program with an inclusive curriculum does not mean an antiracist’s program (p. 349). In order for a multicultural education to be anti-racist, Nieto (2004) explains that the students need to be having open and honest conversations about discrimination, that the teachers are teaching the students skills to fight racism, and that the curriculum includes multiple perspectives about historical events and worldviews (p. 347-348). Nieto adds that a school is committed to a multicultural philosophy once it considers if its practices and policies discriminate against some students (p. 350). Nieto summarizes the chapter with a call for our schools forming global citizens instead of American citizens, and to use multicultural education as an effective tool that promotes embracing our diverse society and world (p. 362).

  1. Initial Emotional Response

The association of multicultural education with anti-discriminatory practices triggered a mixed emotional response. I felt surprised since the content was new; confused since I could not understand how I have been in the educational system and had not heard of it before; upset since I interpreted the lack of exposure as a strategy to cheat me out of tools for empowering of self and others, and at myself for not acting on this chronic sense of dissatisfaction about the kind of multicultural practices that had been presented; overwhelmed by the complexity of the demands of  enacting the multicultural philosophy; and lastly, validated since until now I could not explain the dissatisfaction felt by the superficiality of the type of multicultural practices that I had experienced.

  1. Prior Assumptions or Opinions about the described highlight

Before reading the chapter, my definition of multicultural education was influenced by notions of becoming practitioner sensitive to cultural diversity, to multiculturalism. I was stuck in the following notion: There is a diversity of cultures, and I need to be aware of my biases and respect all cultures by adopting an “I do not know” humble posture when engaging with a client and by using a cultural conceptualization of the clients’ symptoms, needs and goals. Before this chapter, the extent of examples that illustrated my understanding of multicultural education was limited to presenting a “holidays and heroes” approach to diversity (Reyes & Kleyn, 2010, p. 25). Furthermore, prior to reading the chapter, I had assumed that by following the evidence-based practices when providing an evaluation to a student who is Spanish native speaker, I was meeting my requirements as an ethical and culture-sensitive professional. I am aware that I have taken the information given and adopt its practices without a question. Lastly, and so painful to admit, another learned assumption has been that multicultural education and practices are limited to the visible aspects of culture and not actively about race, and anti-discriminatory practices that promote social justice. As I write, I wonder about my own passive acceptance of these prior assumptions.

  1. Source of Assumption or Opinion.

These assumptions are a result of my own personal experiences while learning (personal and institutionalized education) the concept of diversity, racism, and privilege. These experiences include how racism was presented and embedded in every system in my country (Cuba). Then, these assumptions develop by my experiences in the USA, especially the ones that offered a more structured presentation of race, social justice and interpretation of multicultural education through the higher educational system.

I completed my undergraduate studies in Chicago, IL and my graduate studies in Pittsburgh, PA. In the culturally diverse Chicago, I learned about the complex and insidious impact of racism while also feeling ‘not Latina enough.’ At that time, I thought that my personal history did not afford enough “struggle.” Despite being surrounded by strong voices, I did not have a supportive group (peers, professors, friends) who could guide the unpacking of my own notions about race/discrimination and my own privilege.

My graduate experiences in Pittsburgh further disconnected multicultural education from social justice. Race was comfortably avoided. Only one text was assigned (as an additional reading) in my entire four-year program in which the history of racism in USA was exposed. This text was assigned by the only not-White professor of my program. I completed an assignment using information from this book and suggested to the professor to make the text a required reading. He just smiled.

  1. Assumption/Opinion Check – Validation/Invalidation.

My prior assumptions were frozen within the safest and most comfortable space of the practice of multicultural education. These assumptions were learned which indicates that learning about the activism of challenging systemic racism (through multicultural education) continues to be missing from professional development.

As explained by Reyes and  Kleyn (2010) holidays celebrations and acknowledging heroes is important; however, there is a need to notice and to question the motives behind the elements of culture that are absent from the classroom discussion, the school posters, the textbooks, the ongoing dialogue. Nieto (2204) explains that antiracist multicultural education demands reflecting on opposing perspectives to then comprehend reality in its entirety (p. 358). She cites what Jonathon Kozol’s called the “tailoring” of heroes and history as the process through which schools sanitized the curriculums to avoid engaging students in the process of learning antiracist skills and engaging in social justice (Nieto, 2004, p. 347). Nieto (2004) presents as an example the “sanitization” of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and of how, for the schooling of our children, Nat Turner is “not safe” and Abraham Lincoln is (p. 348). The last 10 minutes of the On the Media’s episode “Bad Reputation” aired on February 15th of 2019 includes an example of making Dr. King, Jr. safe by trivializing and stripping away the socialism from his message (Garfield, 2019). Another powerful example mentioned in the episode is of the heroine Rosa Parks. Parks is famously known for her brave and peaceful act of resistant, and not by her role as an investigator for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in bringing awareness about the rape of Recy Taylor. In the episode, guest speaker Doreen St. Felix explains how the presentation of isolated and safe heroes during Black History Month undermines Black history. St. Felix explains that not only the presentation of the safe version of its heroes/heroines shapes how Black history is known, but also, only presenting isolated heroes takes the focus away from the essence of Black history. According to St. Felix, the essence of Black history is the sense of community activism and the force of a political movement. Doreen St. Felix concludes the episode by pointing out that the forces of racism shape the writing of history of the United Stated (Gardfield, 2019).

In chapter 9, Nieto (2004) presents that only by making antiracism explicit, then our students can learn the skills to confront racism (p. 348). Talking about racism within a classroom and with the goal of promoting the development of skills to participate in social justice and equity practices requires that teachers are prepared to unpack racism (at an individual and systemic level) and any expressions of discrimination. Nieto (2004) states the dual need of challenging the silence around racism and of preparing teachers to have these meaningful conversations in the school (p. 349). Determining the belief of pre-service teachers about discussing race was one of the research questions of Brown Buchanan’ study (2015). The participants in her study were mostly White, female pre-service teachers which represents the homogeneity of the U.S. teaching force (Brown Buchanan, 2015; Wilson & Kumar, 2017). Brown Buchanan concluded that since discussions about race were perceived as controversial, pre-service teachers avoided having them especially within their classrooms (2015). Furthermore, research indicates that teachers have a limited understanding of racism (Modica, 2012, as cited in Wilson & Kumar, 2017). Wilson and Kumar (2017) present the case of how teachers’ conceptualizations of racism are exempt from acknowledging the institutional nature of racism. The combination of avoiding talking about race plus having a limited understanding of racism results in a superficial analysis of our history, and a passive stance on social justice (Brown Buchanan, 2015; Wilson & Kumar, 2017). It seems that my institutionalized learning experience of multicultural education has been representative of such outcome.

  1. Realization/Aha Moment or Epiphany.

Agreeing with Reyes and Kleyn (2010), I continue to see the value of learning about the visible aspects of culture; what has changed is that now I know that it is not enough to celebrate heroes/heroines and only focus on the unidimensional, safe and sanitized part of his/her history. I am aware that in order to practice a multicultural philosophy, then I need to be having and be prepared to have conversations about race, racism, discrimination and actively promote social justice within my students. I now know that I have not been having these conversations and that often, I have taken refuge in the notion that talking about race is uncomfortable. I now know that by not having these conversations, I am helping to perpetuate many false ideas about racism and discrimination in the U.S (e.g., racism is a thing of the past).

Furthermore, I have learned that conversations about racism could help students and clients (if appropriate) explore their own responsibility concerning racism (e.g., how we are contributing to sustaining systems of oppression? [Nieto, 2004, p. 349]), and confront and change their racial attitudes. I now know that the way in which I participate in the schooling of my students/clients is important. Nieto (2004) calls teachers and staff to reflect on their own attitudes and practices in the classroom and school to understand how students are grouped (p. 350).

  1. Implications for future teaching practice.

rosa-parks-9433715-1-402In the time period that followed reading Nieto’s Chapter 9, the universe has been sending me opportunities to put in practice my newly found horizon on multicultural education. I was supporting a student to complete her Black history month project. She had chosen Rosa Parks and had included the typical information. Furthermore, the student had concluded that African-Americans were happy. Just like a fairy tale. I ceased the teachable moment opportunity and first, presented additional information about Parks, while inviting some reflection about the Black Lives Matter movement. As I plan to continue promoting reflections about systemic discriminatory practices, I am aware that I need to further develop my discourse on equity and social justice. Additionally, since one of the goals of multicultural education is for our students to develop skills to fight discrimination, I need to get informed about examples of students who as activists are calling out racism in the U.S. As a school psychologist, I need to critically consider my choices of testing materials. Many tests are known as vocabulary loaded (e.g., the WISC). Vocabulary development relates to experiences, and access to multiple and varied experiences is a privilege.


Brown Buchanan, L. (2015). “We make it controversial” Elementary preservice teachers’ beliefs about race. Teacher Education Quarterly, 3-26.

Garfield, B. (Presenter). (2019, February 15). On the Media: Bad Reputation [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from https://www.wnycstudios.org/story/on-the-media-2019-02-15

Nieto, S. (2004). Multicultural Education and School Reform. In Affirming Diversity: The Sociopolitical Context of Multicultural Education, (4th ed., pp. 345-365). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Reyes, S. A., &  Kleyn, T. (2010). Teaching in 2 languages: A guide for K-12 bilingual educators.  Corwin: Thousands Oaks, CA.

Wilson, M. B., & Kumar, T. (2017). Long ago and far away: Preservice teachers’ (mis) conceptions surrounding racism. International Journal of Multicultural Education, 19(2), 182-198.