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Urban Education: Challenges in Educating Culturally Diverse Children


by Min Zhou 2003

This article provides an overview of America's urban population based on the 2000 Census and the implications of increasing cultural diversity for urban public schools. It addresses three basic questions:

1. What does America's population look like at the beginning of the 21st century?

2. What challenges do children and their families face in this time of rapid demographic change?

3. What role can communities play in helping culturally diverse children do well in school?

Current demographic trends indicate that ethnic minorities, especially immigrant groups, not only grow rapidly, but are also increasingly concentrated in urban areas, and that the level of residential segregation by race and class in 2000 remains as high as in 1990. Demographic shifts create new challenges for the education of racial minority and immigrant children. At issue is not whether children are able to advance beyond their parents' statusmany do so because their parents are insufficiently educated and are struggling at the society's bottombut whether they can move up to and secure a position in the ranks of the American middle class. Research has shown that certain children living in the inner city are able to do well, despite adversarial conditions. A key difference is the availability and accessibility of community-based resources, such as after-school tutoring and other educationally oriented programs, that serve children.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 105 Number 2, 2003, p. 208-225
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 11540, Date Accessed: 9/25/2017 12:51:24 PM

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About the Author
  • Min Zhou
    University of California, Los Angeles
    E-mail Author
    MIN ZHOU is professor of sociology and chair of Asian American Studies Interdepartmental Degree Program at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her main areas of research are immigration and immigrant adaptation, ethnic and racial relations, Asian Americans, ethnic entrepreneurship and enclave economies, the community, and urban sociology. She has done extensive work on the educational experience of immigrant children and children of immigrant parentage, the employment and earnings patterns of immigrants and native-born minorities, immigrant communities, ethnic economies, and residential mobility. She is author of Chinatown: The Socioeconomic Potential of an Urban Enclave (Temple University Press, 1992); coauthor of Growing up American: How Vietnamese Children Adapt to Life in the United States (Russell Sage Foundation Press, 1998); and coeditor of Contemporary Asian America (New York University Press, 2000). Currently, Dr. Zhou is writing a book based on ethnographic research in three immigrant communities in Los Angeles, which examines how neighborhood environment and neighborhood-based institutions influence adolescents after-school life and their current academic and future occupational aspirations. She is coediting a book on Asian American youth culture and collaborating with a research team to conduct a major research project on immigration and intergenerational mobility in metropolitan Los Angeles.
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