Literacy Education and Diversity: Toward Equity in the Teaching of Reading and Writing

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A discussion of the education of a population that is increasingly diverse, linguistically and culturally, this paper argues that non-mainstream students do not perform as well in school as predominantly white, middle-class, English-speaking mainstream students because they are not equitably served by the educational system. Some complexities of educational equity are explored and equity issues in literacy education of language minority students are analyzed from four perspectives: individual student differences; sociocultural factors; language issues; and curriculum and instruction. It is concluded that perceptions of students as individuals must be balanced with perceptions of them as members of social and cultural groups, and that the well-documented mismatch between home and school language use for non-mainstream students causes difficulties because school expectations are based on mainstream language patterns; it does not indicate a lack of interest in or preparation for school. Few educational programs tap and develop native language abilities among bilingual students, and non-European content is generally absent from curricula. Literacy education for language minority students generally relies on strategies designed for mainstream students but with more emphasis on correctness and basic skills. Suggestions for making literacy education more equitable are offered.


ERIC Number: ED318243

Published Citation

Lucas, T., & Schechter, S. R. (1990). Literacy Education and Diversity: Toward Equity in the Teaching of Reading and Writing.