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Altoids

Question: Does diversity tension affect student performance in our public schools? Process: selected Lake Forest Elementary School due to student diversity; studied school data; identified diversity mixtures; evaluated school motto/mission, and requirements; conducted interviews. Conclusions: language barriers present the greatest challenge and need to be addressed to improve student performance; diversity tensions increased with age among the students; within the Hispanic students there are elephants and giraffes (Central and South American students “look down” upon the Mexican students); and the lack of understanding cultural differences impacts the school’s capacity to achieve. Recommendations: formalize sharing of “best practices” between schools; recruit and pay premium for bilingual teachers; provide at least one bilingual counselor in each school; rapidly train all teachers – TESOL; provide cultural sensitivity training to all school personnel; and in the short term, provide translation services for parent/teacher conferences.