Teaching ‘sensitivity’ to teachers

Boston teachers need training in cultural sensitivity, says Sociedad Latina, a local advocacy group. Insensitive teachers create an unwelcoming climate for students, “potentially contributing to their loss of classroom focus, poor test performance, or a higher dropout rate,” advocates tell the Boston Globe.

“The kids are right in demanding more training for teachers,’’ said Carroll Blake, executive director for the School Department’s Office of the Achievement Gap.  “It’s not just valuing an individual student’s culture, but acknowledging it and integrating it into classroom lessons.’’

On Flypaper, Liam Julian scoffs.

Fifteen-year-old Shantal Solomon told the newspaper that she can “vividly recall the day two years ago . . . when she observed her teacher scolding her friends for speaking Spanish.” “I felt offended,” she said. “I don’t even speak Spanish. But it’s a free country. We should be able to speak the language we want.”

Bien sûr, reply school leaders, who reportedly think that “more comprehensive cultural training” for educators is right and good, and that such instruction “could provide a critical link in closing an alarming achievement gap between students of different races and ethnicities.”

. . . It is not a free country, especially not for fifteen-year-olds, and public-school pupils do not have the right to take tests in Tagalog.

Also on Flypaper, Jamie Davies O’Leary disagrees. Cultural sensitivity won’t lift test scores but students and teachers should treat each other with respect. As a kindergarten teacher, she witnessed five-year-olds trading ethnic slurs and spit.

The children may need training in behavior and manners, but do teachers really need a course in cultural sensitivity?  Common sense and common courtesy should be enough, I’d think.

On Fox, Amber Winkler of Fordham and Melissa Luna of Sociedad Latina discuss sensitivity training. Note the fair and unbiased intro.

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