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Master's Professional Reports Abstract

Institutional Bias and the Public School System

Our nation is undergoing rapid changes along ethnic and cultural lines. With the combination of differing birth rates, immigration and the aging of our current population, Anglo "whites" will become less and less the majority over time. Today's public schools are leading this demographic change. Reflecting the shifts in American population, students of color will comprise nearly 40 percent of all children in public schools by the year 2000. School districts are taking actions in response to these challenges in the form of developing mulitculturally sensitive curriculums and implementing diversity training programs for staff and students. These actions are a good start for addressing individual attitudes and behavior, but the pervading culture of the school must also be addressed. The school policies and procedures, and the school system as a whole must be closely examined. The biases existing in the culture and practices of a school organization are what make the institution itself biased. This report will examine the broader, systemic issues that schools must address in reaching for a multicultural organization that truly affirms the diversity found among its students and staff. The concluding chapter will contain recommendations for activities which can be used to explore the diversity of individual campuses -- as well as the central administration of the school district -- and begin to build a supportive educational environment.

--Author's foreword.