I have blogged a great deal about the importance of faculty diversity, and why school leadership must make it an absolute priority when recruiting and retaining bright faculty members of color. Better yet, this topic will remain high on my priority list, as it has for a number of top-tier independent schools. Thus, it is one of the reasons why I have been so involved with teachers of color programs, as they tend to focus on topics related to hiring, nurturing, promoting, and retaining a diverse faculty. (see earlier post here). There is nothing worse than reading about schools that discuss the importance of faculty diversity, but lacks the faculty composition to back it up. Moreover, the same can be said of a diverse student body. Recently while hard at work, or hard at goofing off … you decide, a number of young ladies from one of the courses I teach came by to take a picture with me. After looking at this picture, I could not help but think about the degree of student diversity we have here at Houston Christian. As is the case at any institution, you always want more. I promised these young ladies pictured below a post, and here it is. This is a great group of young ladies. And, it is always fun discussing topics of school diversity with them; it seems to be a frequent topic.
Pictured: (L to R) Alex Bui, Alaina Urbantke, Priya Chacko, Daniell Milton, Lane Walla, Kaimyn Kinkade. The doll is of W.E.B. Du Bois.
This article here explains the challenges of diversity as it relates to students. Ascertaining a diverse faculty is challenging, but far easier than doing so in the student body. Schools must commit to a diverse faculty.
While private schools can’t discriminate on the basis of race, they can be choosy about which students they accept, especially if they don’t accept any federal funding. Some schools require high admission test scores. Some will not accept students with disabilities or students who can’t speak English or those who have had previous discipline problems at other schools.
As a result, private school student bodies tend to be higher performing and fairly homogenous.
In 2004, 76.5 percent of private school students were white, compared with just 57.4 percent of public school students, according to NCES. Locally, private schools report only 6 to 8 percent of their student enrollment as minority, compared to 20.6 percent in Knox County Schools, according to the 2009 Tennessee State Report Card.
Minority achievement is higher overall in private schools than in public schools, according to the 2003 Nation’s Report Card, although there is still a gap between white and minority achievement levels.
One private school locally that attracts a larger than average minority enrollment is First Lutheran School, one of the city’s oldest private schools. Located close to downtown Knoxville on Broadway, it has about 15 percent minority students. “(We) fare very well on standardized tests – (we) score in the seventieth to eightieth percentile in the nation,” said interim principal Tim Wolfram. The school gives the Stanford Achievement Test and the Otis-Lennon School Ability Test each year.
“It has such a spirit and vibe about it. I like the caring, loving atmosphere. I like the unity there, and the diversity,” said Patrick Randolph, a parent of two students there. Randolph, who is black, attended First Lutheran as a child and now drives his two sons from their South Knoxville home every day to the school on his way to work.
Randolph pointed out that the school’s uniforms serve as an equalizer among students.
“The kids get a great education there. Nobody sees each other as a race or as a class,” said Randolph. “Everybody has the same white shirt, same blue jacket.” (Source)