Principal’s Multicultural Education Guide
School leaders need to ensure that all students should have an equal opportunity to learn, here’s how.
It is essential that school leaders align public institutions to meet the needs of diverse student populations, creating a new model for the 21st Century learner. Schools must address the rapidly changing world, which is racially, ethnically, religiously and linguistically diverse. While schools are meeting the demands of technology advances, teacher retention and added matters related to student achievement, they have remained insufficient when it comes to serving historically marginalized students.
One of the major goals of multicultural education is to ensure that “all students regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, social class and ethnic, racial or cultural characteristics should have an equal opportunity to learn” (Banks, 2014). Therefore, school leaders play a pivotal role in ensuring that schools provide all students ways to be successful. As the United States continues to experience a population shift, it becomes increasingly important for leaders to understand the need for multicultural education. In their book, Teaching to Change the World Oakes, et. al. explains that in the South where 38 percent of the US population is educated, students of color make up the majority of those attending public schools.
The United States Department of Education highlights this phenomenon when he says, “the percentage of students of color in US public schools has doubled in the 30 years between 1973 and 2004, growing from 22 to 43 percent of the school population”. Hope Yen of the Associated Press reports that even more significant is the prediction that by the year 2043 Whites will no longer be the majority population in America (Yen, 2013).
What does this mean for school leaders?
Ultimately, it means that school leaders will need to be immersed in multicultural education concepts prior to assuming leadership roles in schools.
Unfortunately, the sad reality is that principals are more than likely unprepared to address multicultural education in public schools. Trained in administrator programs that hardly, if at all, offer courses in multicultural education, school leaders may unknowingly be perpetuating the unjust, cyclical nature of public schooling. For a vast number of public schools, education has thus far not reflected the needs of the new, diverse majority in public schools, instead the Anglocentric curriculum still exists in “varying degrees in the nation’s schools” (Banks, 2014).
Even more daunting is that school administrators are inadequately prepared to address multicultural education from a sociopolitical perspective that uses critical theories to dissect leadership, teaching and learning. Basic education is a pervasive process important for social justice, critical pedagogy, and for all students. The sociopolitical construct of multicultural education is that it is antiracist. These critical areas of multicultural education present twenty-first century school leaders with the daunting responsibility of deconstructing the traditional approaches to education that have ill served students of various races, religions, social classes and ethnic groups.
All Students First
A major hurdle for these leaders will be how well they can construct a new educational system that truly empowers all students. This will require them to work with parents and local communities in understanding the traditional Eurocentered school system and one of the first steps in the process is advocating for multicultural education. Rutgers University gives practical strategies stating that collaboration is key towards building trust and decision making that benefits the school community. Some of the steps Rutgers says that increase collaboration are: having meaningful and ongoing input and connecting that input into the curriculum.
School leaders are the key to ensuring the implementation of multicultural education in schools, but they must first understand it and know why it is needed. There are several reasons for school principals to address multicultural education. Among the concerns here is the changing demographics of the U.S. population. School administrators can be prepared to implement multicultural education in their schools.
Keywords: Multicultural Education, school principal, parent collaboration, community collaboration, K12 schools
Comment below on what innovative parent or community partnerships your school or district has.
Banks, J. (2014). An introduction to multicultural education. 5th Edition. New York: Allyn and Bacon. Retrieved from: https://books.google.com/books/about/An_introduction_to_multicultural_educati.html?id=eH_uAAAAMAAJ
Blair, N. (2012). The New 21st Century Learner. Alexandria, VA: National Association of Elementary School Principals. Retrieved from: http://www.naesp.org/sites/default/files/Blair_JF12.pdf
Connolly, Gail. (2004). The 21st Century Principal: Leading, Learning, Building. Alexandria, VA: National Association of Elementary School Principals. Retrieved from:
Krogstad, J. and Fry, R. (2014). Dept. of Ed. projects public schools will be ‘majority-minority’ this fall. Retrieved from:
Oakes, J., Lipton, M., Anderson, L. and Stillman, J. (2012). Teaching to Change the World. London: Routledge. Book Website: http://www.teachingtochangetheworld.org/
Rutgers University. (2009). Strategies for Effective Collaboration with Parents, Schools and Community Members. Retrieved from:
Yen, Hope. (2013). Census: White majority in U.S. gone by 2043. USA Today. Retrieved from: