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Perspective(s)

Perspective(s)

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By Bill Rivers, Executive Director of Joint National Committee for Languages

Last week, someone pointed out to me that I’m a white man, and that as such, my experience in schools, work, and civic life have been very different from hers. We were talking about our experiences in public high school in the mid-80s, and while the schools we went to were in some ways comparable, our experiences diverged greatly.

Nobody ever told me I wasn’t cut out for college, based on my heritage, or that I couldn’t study engineering, based on my gender.

In the thirty-one years since I graduated from high school, the school itself has become far more linguistically and ethnically diverse, from the 70% white and 30% African American, when I was there.

We could see the divide in how people were treated, however, and many of us spoke up about it then, but it was disheartening to hear from my colleague, whom I respect immensely for her activism and achievements in Dual Language, that this still goes on, and worse yet, that the experiences my children are having, as imperfect as our local schools might be, maybe aren’t representative of the ground truth around the US.

Continue reading to find out more about Bill River's insights..

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