The Wrong Kind of Different: Challenging the Meaning of Diversity in American Classrooms

The Wrong Kind of Different: Challenging the Meaning of Diversity in American Classrooms

by Antonia Randolph

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How can multiculturalism go wrong? Through extensive interviews conducted in a large Midwestern district, Antonia Randolph explores how teachers perceive students from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds and the unintended consequences of a kind of “colorblind multiculturalism.” She unearths a hierarchy of acceptance and legitimacy that excludes most poor Black students and favors certain immigrant minorities. In addition, Randolph discovers how some teachers distinguish their support for certain forms of student diversity from curriculum diversity, such as accommodating bilingual education, which they find burdensome.

This provocative book challenges readers to look beyond the surface benefits of diversity and raises issues about American schools that need to be addressed, including:

  • How school diversity policy has become detached from concerns about equity and social justice.
  • How teachers see diversity as a “good” thing as long as it doesn’t inconvenience them or lower their schools’ scores on standardized tests.
  • How some immigrant children receive favorable treatment sanctioned by multicultural ideology and practice.
  • How many Black students and schools suffer racial penalties for being “the wrong kind of different.

“Antonia Randolph raises a gamut of issues that sorely need to be confronted. I commend her for having the insight and courage to bring these unsettling truths to light, based as they are on assiduous research.” 
Stephen Steinberg, Distinguished Professor of Urban Studies, Queens College & Graduate Center, City University of New York

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807773000
Publisher: Teachers College Press
Publication date: 08/01/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 991,741
File size: 478 KB

About the Author

Antonia Randolph is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the University of Delaware.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction 1

Autobiography of a Name: The Perils of Color Blind Thinking 3

Organization of the Book 4

1 Dividing Up Difference 7

From Assimilation to Pluralism: A History of Race and Ethnicity in Early 20th-Century American Schools 10

Racing Perceptions: Disparate Teacher Perceptions of Minority Students 14

Consequences of Disparties in Teacher Perceptions of Minority Students 15

From Pluralism to Assimilating Diversity: Theorizing Laketown's Racial Orthodoxy 16

Laketown: Diversity East Coast Style 18

2 "I Admire Hispanic People": Ethnic Credits and Racial Penalties in the Classroom 23

The Story of Difference: Race and Ethnicity as Narratives 24

Deserving and Undeserving Minorities: Teachers' Ethnic and Racial Narratives 25

Well-meaning Cultural Tourists and Frustrated Natives 40

The Social Cost of Minority Status 41

3 Good and Bad Diversity: Judging Difference in Multiracial Schools 43

A Multiracial Oasis in a Segregated City: Dodge and Bowen 44

"Lost of Flavor": The Attractions of Diversity for Teachers at Multiracial Schools 46

How Teachers Came to Teach at Multiracial Schools 47

Giving Diversity Its Due: Performing Cosmopolitanism and Tolerance 48

Benefiting from Diversity: Productive Diversity and Multicultural Capital 53

Diversity's Discontents 58

Adding it Up: Balancing the Costs and Benefits of Diversity 61

4 "Kids Are Just Kids": Managing the Stigma Against Black Schools 63

Differences Beneath the Surface: Black Schools in Laketown 64

The Symbolic Burden of Teaching at Black Schools 65

"A Tough Place to Have Started": First Experiences Teaching at Black Schools 67

The Heart of Darkness: The Concentrated Stigma of Black Schools 68

Coping with the Burden of Teaching Black 72

Responding to the Unique Needs of Black Schools 78

Adrift in the American Dream: How Diversity Left Black Schools Behind 84

5 Not Quite White: Preserving the White Norm 87

Not White 88

Not American 90

Not Mainstream 93

Not Middle Class 99

6 Fulfilling the Promise of Diversity 107

Orthodox Inequality: How Assimilating Diversity Reinforces Social Hierarchies 109

Doing Diversity Differently 109

Appendix: Methodology 113

References 115

Index 119

About the Author 131

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