Diversity in the classroom is screaming for notice and the Portland Public Schools are answering the cry with Oregon Uniting’s racial and historical curriculum in schools.
Spurred by educational bills mandating multicultural education, Oregon Uniting has developed a new curriculum that focuses on creating awareness among middle school children concerning racial diversity and tolerance.
Oregon Uniting is a non-profit group that specializes in racial reconciliation and justice. The group will be responsible for the development of the new curriculum that will be implemented in schools around the state of Oregon.
Based in Portland the group was founded in 1998. It achieves its objectives through the use of interracial dialogue, educational programs, events, which cater to the exploration of interracial awareness, diversity and tolerance. The group also acts as a facilitator for the communication of racial issues within communities.
The long history of the neglect of people of color in the state will be one of the main issues addressed in the curriculum. It will serve as the basis for understanding the current inequality among races to create awareness of racial diversity and empathy for fellow human beings.
“Our educational efforts will not promote separatism and inter-group conflict as some critics predict,” said Niki Toussaint, director of Oregon Uniting. “Its purpose is not to diminish the achievements of Western Europeans, but rather emphasize that, in spite of tremendous barriers, many groups played a significant role in the development of our state.”
The curriculum is being implemented with the assistance of several seasoned and qualified veterans. Among them are Carolyn Leonard, former coordinator of multicultural and multiethnic education for Portland public schools and current public school’s Compliance officer and Floy Pepper, curriculum development specialist.
“As school populations in Oregon become more diverse, racial issues will continue to rise,” Leonard said. “Understanding and acknowledging historical reasons for racial inequality will help all children heal and move on from today’s racial roadblocks.”
The organization already works in tandem with Grant High School, Rigler Elementary and Lane Middle School and will begin pilot testing the program with other schools this January.
Oregon Uniting has begun several projects, including the Day of Acknowledgment and Dialogues on Racial Reconciliation.
For more information on Oregon Uniting, their work and to learn how you can help, visit www.oregonuniting.org.