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Some research studies indicate that a content knowledge gap exists between minority and non-minority children, especially young children from poor families. One factor contributing to this problem may be that teachers expect minority children to learn subject matter at a slower rate than their counterparts. It has been found that teachers' attitudes indeed vary by gender, race, ethnicity, and native language of the learner (Washington, 1982, p. 60). Tettegah (1996) refers to this notion as the "cultural mismatch" between teacher and student. This mismatch has been closely tied to the' quality of education that a child is likely to receive as well as his opportunity for learning. This phenomenon might account for the learning gap that exists between minority and non-minority children. By the year 2020, culturally and linguistically diverse students will constitute approximately half of the public school population in the United States (Cho & DeCastro-Ambrosetti, 2005/06, p. 25). Given these statistics, one must ask, "How can we afford to fail over 50% of our nation's children?" The research surrounding this issue indicates that both white and black teachers perceive white students more positively than they do minority students, including those who speak English as their second language (Ferguson, 1998a, 1998b; Gutman & Midgley, 2000; Holliday, 1985; Spitz, 1999; Washington, 1982). For example, teachers expect that Hispanic students will perform more poorly than white students on learning tasks across the curriculum (Jensen & Rosenfeld, 1974; McCombs & Gay, 2001; Wong, 1980). Rather than consider the linguistic differences that might account for initial learning deficits for Hispanic children, teachers choose to refer these children to special classes and thus classify them as learning disabled. Similarly, preservice teachers hold these same perceptions about students, depending on their race and ethnicity (Cho & DeCastro-Ambrosetti, 2005/2006; Deitz & Purkey, 1969; Tettegah, 1996).

Professional & Technical
June 22
Association for Childhood Education International
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.

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