Supplementary Reading #3 : LUSENET : M.Ed./International Falls : One Thread

Supplementary Reading #3

-- Anonymous, April 05, 1999


The Demographics of Diversity, Principal, September 1998, Vol. 78, #1, pp.27-32

It is rapidly becoming obvious that the white population in the United States will inevitably decrease. In 1997 white people accounted for seventeen percent of the worlds population. By the year 2010 it is predicted that this figure will be nine percent. This will make the white population the smallest minority ethnic group. Of the 215 nations in the world, there are currently people from each one living in the United States. These people are marrying other people with different ethnic backgrounds, resulting in approximately three million children in America with mixed ancestry.

Demographics is a very effective tool we use to measure the statistical characteristics of human populations. According to Harold Hodgkinson, the director of the Center for Demographics Policy at the Institute for Educational Leadership in Washington, D.C., we have already learned several important details. The United States has a similar demographic situation to that of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. The Northern populations are mostly old, white, wealthy, well-educated, and their numbers are declining. In the South and West, populations are predominantly younger, poorer, less-educated, much more ethnically diverse, and their numbers are steadily growing. This is the area where ninety percent of Americas growth comes from. Half of the people in the U.S. live in California, Texas, and Florida. It is also very interesting to note that while these major cities populations are starting to decline, their surrounding urban areas are growing. It is in these suburbs that poverty flourishes and is becoming more prevalent.

Many educators today are concerned with how we will socialize these children with such different ancestries. In most classrooms you will find several types of diversity, with some being very apparent and some not. Not only are the differences in their backgrounds, but also in religions, learning styles, socioeconomic classes, and even in sexual identities. This is where demographics may be helpful. Using this type of assessment we are able to make fairly accurate predictions of the number of students coming up, students who are at risk for failure, who will graduate, and who will go to college.

Most people in International Falls are pretty sheltered from racial conflict and there is very little ethnic diversity among our student body. The most predominant minority group we have is the Native Americans. Because of our situation, its easy to miss, or conveniently shut out, the racial problems in other cities. As our children graduate and go out into the world on their own, I feel we, as educators and parents, have an obligation to inform and educate them so they will have an idea of what to expect out there. There is a lot going on in the world that we natives of International Falls never get exposed to and it is easy to get into offensive situations due to ignorance, or lack of exposure to ethnic diversity.

Educators and parents are beginning to realize that in this widely diverse world students need to acquire the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to someday function effectively as future citizens. This kind of multicultural education encourages the conscious action of citizens to improve society by combining their knowledge and morals with the correct way to use them. Advocates of multiculturalism are already demanding that people of color, and women, get the recognition they deserve and that this recognition be included in the curriculum. It is hoped that in doing this the principles of freedom and equality will be emphasized while also learning the sad, and sometimes bitter, realities of racism and sexism.

-- Anonymous, April 05, 1999

Moderation questions? read the FAQ