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In White Bread, readers accompany Jessica on a journey into her family’s past, into herself, and into the bicultural community she teaches but does not understand. Jessica, a fictional White fifth-grade teacher, is prompted to explore her family history by the unexpected discovery of a hundred-year-old letter. Simultaneously, she begins to grapple with culture and racism, principally through discussions with a Mexican American teacher. White Bread pulls readers into a tumultuous six months of Jessica’s life as she confronts many issues that turn out to be interrelated, such as why she knows so little about her family’s past, why she craves community as she feels increasingly isolated, why the Latino teachers want the curriculum to be more Latino, and whether she can become the kind of teacher who sparks student learning. The storyline alternates between past and present, acquainting readers with German American communities in the Midwest during the late 1800s and early 1900s, portraits based on detailed historic excavation. What happened to these communities gives Jessica the key to unlock answers to questions that plague her. White Bread can be read simply for pleasure. It can also be used in teacher education, ethnic studies, and sociology courses. Beginning teachers may see their own struggles reflected in Jessica’s classroom. People of European descent might see themselves within, rather than outside, multicultural studies. White Bread can also be used in conjunction with family history research.
The Academic and Social Value of Ethnic Studies
A Research Review
Christine E. Sleeter (2011, NEA)
National Education Association
Ronald D. Henderson, Director
What is the value of ethnic studies in schools and universities? Supporters say ethnic
studies promotes respect and understanding among races, supports student success, and
teaches critical thinking skills. Critics, however, increasingly question the relevance of
ethnic studies education programs in the post-integration era.
As issues involving ethnic studies take center stage in education policy and practice, the
National Education Association believes any discussion of the role of ethnic studies in
education and in student achievement rightfully begins by asking:
• What do we know from prior research and practice about ethnic studies,
especially as they relate to student achievement and narrowing achievement gaps?
• Are there ways to examine and talk about what we have learned that will enable
us to apply those lessons to creating and establishing ethnic studies programs that
support student and teacher learning?
The evolution of ethnic studies has sparked its share of controversy. NEA commissioned
a review of the research on ethnic studies programs and curricula—specifically the ways
in which such programs and curricula serve to improve student achievement and narrow
achievement gaps—to inform the discourse on this issue. This paper provides a research
base for discussing best practices for designing and implementing ethnic studies programs
and curricula that meet those targets.
We hope this review is useful for revisiting ideas and generating new thoughts about
the relationship between ethnic studies and student achievement. And we hope that our
efforts in this regard will help ensure a great public school for every student.
Dennis Van Roekel
National Education Association
read the article at http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/NBI-2010-3-value-of-ethnic-studies.pdf