How Does the Culture of the Teacher?
Shape the Classroom Experience of
Latino Students?: The Unexammecl
Question in Crit mil Peclagogy
Much has been written during the last three decades regarding the conditions
that Latino students face in public schools. A variety of studies have explored
issues related to culture, cognition. learning styles, language differences, bi-
cultural development, multicultural curriculum, “and various educational ap-
proaches and their impact upon these students. But despite all the talk about
cultural differences and the need to develop educational strategies that will ensure
the educational achievement of Latino students, no research has specifically
examined the manner in which the teacher’s culture might impact the academic
development and social empowennent of students in the Latino community.
The question of the teacher’s culture is a particularly salient one, given the
current rapid shifts in demographics sweeping this country. School districts in
all major urban centers in the United States are experiencing dramatic changes
in the cultural composition of their student populations. As a consequence.
students of color now constitute the majority population in twenty~thtee of the
nati.on’s twenty-five largest school districts. Despite this reality, the majority of
the teachers in these school districts are still white (Gay, I989).
Even more disturbing are studies that show a decline in the number of teachers
of color entering the field. In a report entitled Education That Works: An Action
Plan for the Education of Minorities (1990) prepared by the Quality Education
for Minorities Project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
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