While the student population in America’s public schools becomes increasingly diverse, the nation’s teaching force remains predominantly white. The divide is especially prevalent in urban districts like Chicago, where nearly 90 percent of public school students are black or Hispanic and fewer than half the teachers are. Research suggests that these differences can impact student performance as personal biases and cultural misunderstandings get in the way of learning.
The Chicago Teacher Education Pipeline at Illinois State University takes a step beyond conventional cultural competency training by immersing their teacher candidates in Chicago’s highest-need communities- part of a month-long intensive fellowship called STEP-UP.
Education Week Correspondent Lisa Stark followed some of these aspiring teachers through the program. Can STEP-UP truly bridge the cultural divide?
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