Understanding the role of culture in development is critical to helping children of color achieve what they are capable of in education. Teachers need to think about their own cultures and life experiences as a first step in understanding and relating to the children and the families they will work with on a daily basis.
Early childhood education is an increasingly important aspect of American life, predicting not only later school outcomes but also career and work options, economic stability, health, and social opportunities. But for many African Americans, School performance constrains many future opportunities. African American children, on average, score lower on tests and are given lower grades than Asian, White, and Latino students. In adolescence, many of them fail courses and drop out of school.
Part of the cause of this achievement gap are past and present economic and social conditions and it seems that Societal efforts to overcome the ill effects of prejudice and discrimination for African Americans have not been effective enough. Inequities continue in almost every aspect of life, including education.
Adding to the problem is the fact that scientific and technological changes have raised the educational requirements for successful and fulfilling careers, placing an even greater burden on underserved communities and schools.
By understanding these factors, teachers can develop and implement the strategies needed to move from school failure to school success, increasing opportunities for life success for many more students of color. By understanding the differences and the similarities among groups, teachers can learn the strengths of children and families when designing programs to address their educational and developmental needs.
Not every group shares the same life experience or cultural background. If our educational system is to address the issue of the educational achievement gap, they must learn to accept these cultural and life experience differences and use them to an advantage.