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Monograph series Volume VII, Number 1

Issues
Executive Summary

To order a complete copy of the monograph, send Shannon Horn an e-mail

Issue Area One: How Do We Collaboratively Help the Community Realize Potential Strengths of Diversity in a Democracy?

Issue Area Two: How Do We Resolve the Separateness of Cedar Falls and Waterloo Created by Diversity?

Issue Area Three: How Can We Provide Opportunities and Design Support Systems for People of Diversity Without Creating Dependency?

Issue Area Four: How Does Understanding Our Ethnicity Impact Our Perceptions of Others and How Do We Change Negative Expectations to Orient All People to Success?

Issue Area Five: How Do We Develop a Global Perspective in Helping People Understand Our Interconnectedness?

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Executive Summary
Dave Else
Director

Iowa has a rich 150 year history of diversity, democracy, and learning. Perhaps no where in Iowa is the richness more apparent than the Cedar Falls/Waterloo metropolitan area and the University of Northern Iowa (Black Hawk County).

Black Hawk County has been influenced by people from many diverse origins and backgrounds. After migrating to the Northern Iowa area in the 1800s, the Sac and Fox Indians were forced to cede this land in 1842. Black Hawk County was then open for immigration and settlement.

The Homestead Act of 1862 promised 106 acres of free land to any male 21 years of age. In addition, freedom from religious persecution, plentiful job opportunities, and flight from the war between Prussia and Denmark were also major factors encouraging people to leave their European homes. Families from (Germany, Denmark, Norway, Slovakia, Greece, and Holland originally made Black Hawk County their home.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the Illinois Central Railroad was besieged by strike. In the effort to break the protest against low wages at the railroad's maintenance and repair terminal, the railroad offered free passage to anyone willing to come to Waterloo and work. Hundreds of African-American families heard the call and came North. By 1911, the number of African-Americans in Waterloo had grown from 22 to 395 (Hawthorne, 1992). According to the 1990 census, 8,514 African-Americans live in Black Hawk County and constitute the largest ethnic minority.

In recent decades, immigrants from Southeast Asia have also settled in Black Hawk County escaping harsh conditions in their native lands and seeking greater opportunity. Today Asians constitute a large ethnic group with approximately 1,000 persons.

Today, Hispanics are also a growing minority as, like their predecessors, jobs have proven attractive. Packing plants actively recruit for employment by offering income that is not readily available in South and Central America. Over 1,000 Hispanics from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and beyond now live in Black Hawk County. This population continues to grow rapidly.

Although the University of Northern Iowa does not have a written record of the growth of cultural diversity, it may in many ways parallel the increase in cultural diversity across the state of Iowa.

The number of minority faculty, support staff, and students at the University has grown steadily. The number of minority students represents 4.3% of the student population. It is essential that educational systems recruit minority teaching candidates. The necessity for addressing diversity in the teaching profession is the result of the changing demographic projections (National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, 1996), the historical profile of educators as being white and middle class (Goodlad, 1994), and the need for white students and students of color to experience the teaching and role modeling benefits that teachers of color bring to the classroom (Darling-Hammond & Cobb, 1996). The College of Education is responsive to this need, as noted by the recommendations recently put forward by the Blue Ribbon Panel on Teacher Education:  

  • Support linkages with public schools and community colleges to encourage ethnically diverse students to pursue careers in teaching.
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  • Expand and increase financial support of the present Minorities in Teaching (MIT) program with special emphasis on activities that are centered in the public school systems across the state.
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  • Develop a comprehensive recruitment and mentoring program and a climate that encourages minority recruitment, admission, and retention.
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  • Coordinate University financial resources targeted toward the recruitment of a diverse high quality teacher education population. 
  • Develop teachers who are able to teach students from diverse racial, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds; who can recognize and address the special needs of all children and youth; who will affirm and encourage children and youth to develop their talents, to recognize their capabilities, and to understand their responsibility to be contributing citizens in a democratic society; who are well versed in subject matter; and who have an understanding of the teaching-learning process and their impact on children and youth.
  • Require clinical/field experiences with diverse learners in order for the teacher education student to observe and apply effective practices with diverse populations and to link knowledge of the subject area with knowledge of the learner and the learning process.
  •  
Even with Iowa's limited minority population of approximately 5%, considerable disparity exists between the number of minority students and their counterparts in the teaching force as seen by the fact that minority teachers and school administrators constitute less than 1% of all the state's elementary and secondary school educators (Else, 1991, p. 2).  
Numerous initiatives have been undertaken at the University to overcome the various reasons cited as explanations for these trends--demography, poor academic preparation and performance, pay, absence of professional support systems, working conditions, and attractive career opportunities in other professions. One such program is the Minorities in Teaching Program which reaches youngsters at the middle school level and exposes them to the possibilities of higher education. This and other programs have been highly successful.

 Unfortunately, minority students and faculty continue to express feelings of isolation and lack of cultural identity and support. Likewise, diversity has created a separateness between Cedar Falls and Waterloo. Additionally, there is a growing sentiment in the metropolitan area that the issues of cultural diversity have been addressed and discussed but little action has been taken. And yet we know cultural diversity is critical to our growth as a University and community. With this premise in mind, the Institute for Educational Leadership and the YWCA of Black Hawk County, in cooperation with the Waterloo and Cedar Falls city governments and school districts, Hispanic or Latino Access Association, UNI Minorities in Teaching Program, and the Iowa Humanities Board sponsored a working conference to identify and define critical issues impacting equality, develop options for resolution of issues, and build consensus on recommendations to assist the communities and University in ensuring equality.

 Forty-five K-12 educators, University representatives, and community leaders were invited to the conference held on the University of Northern Iowa campus. Individuals were selected based on their keen interest in cultural diversity, equity issues, their skills as communicators, and their enthusiasm for exploring issues in an indepth and interactive environment. The purpose of the conference was to stimulate dialogue to better understand differences and the potential strengths of our diverse community and to use this newly developed knowledge base to construct an action agenda designed to implement recommendations which lead to equity for all.

 Participants were organized to address the following issues:  

  • How Do We Collaboratively Help the Community Realize Potential Strengths of Diversity in a Democracy?
  •  How Do We Resolve the Separateness of Cedar Falls and Waterloo Created by Diversity?
  •  How Can We Provide Opportunities and Design Support Systems for People of Diversity without Creating Dependency?
  •  How Does Understanding Our Ethnicity Impact Our Perceptions of Others and How Do We Change Negative Expectations to Orient All People to Success?
  •  How Do We Develop a Global Perspective in Helping People Understand Our Interconnectedness?
Participants prioritized issue areas of interest and were invited to write a position paper on their assigned issue area. Papers were submitted prior to the conference, copied, and sent to participants in the same issue group. During the three-day conference, participants met in work groups reflecting the issue areas selected. Through dialogue, they analyzed the critical issues, developed resolutions and or answers to these issues, and worked to reach consensus on recommendations to ensure meaningful equality for all members of our University and metropolitan area community.

 This monograph includes participants' position papers and the consensus reports developed by the five issue area groups and written by each group's facilitator(s). While you are encouraged to read the entire monograph for greater detail and understanding, the following issue area recommendations are presented to highlight the best thinking of conference participants. 

How Do We Collaboratively Help the Community Realize Potential Strengths of Diversity in a Democracy? 

Two initiatives are recommended to help the community realize the many strengths diversity can bring:  

  1. Take actions to develop educated, responsible citizens who are empowered to participate effectively in a culturally pluristic society. Educational efforts should focus on business and the potential economic strengths of all adult citizens.
  2. Develop a long-range strategic plan. The plan should be characterized by a number of elements:
  • representation by all types of people and by diverse cultures;
  • utilization of existing structures in the community including the University, school districts, religious coalitions and churches, neighborhood associations, and community organizations;
  • employment of strategies to identify barriers to the community's realization of the strengths of diversity;
  • opportunities to address change both on individual and systemic levels;
  • creation of efforts to develop a culture of hope;
  • affirmation of risk-takers who provide leadership toward a whole and diverse community; and
  • involvement and organization of students to offer input and feedback. 
How Do We Resolve the Separateness of Cedar Falls and Waterloo Created by Diversity?
  1. Create a Metro Diversity Team under the leadership of the highest elected officials of Black Hawk County. The Team should become involved in diversity training, address housing concerns, develop festivals to celebrate diversity, and involve youth as change agents.
  2. Change the signals that Cedar Falls and Waterloo communicate to the public and set aside stereotyping of our communities.
  3. Enhance community diversity by sensitizing people to the impact on diversity of our physical and economic structure.
     
How Can We Provide Opportunities and Design Support Systems for People of Diversity Without Creating Dependency?
  1. Encourage each individual to determine where he/she can best use his/her abilities to provide new opportunities and improve existing systems that support people of diversity.
  2. Enable individuals/families to move out of existing support systems.
  3. Require individuals/families who have moved out of support systems to return to the system as contributors. 
How Does Understanding Our Ethnicity Impact Our Perceptions of Others and How Do We Change Negative Expectations to Orient All People to Success:
  1. Through dialogue, recognize that knowledge of each other's ethnicity does not, in itself, effectively address racism and oppression.
  2. Ensure that ethnicity is not a barrier for access to power.
  3. Make the following statement a part of discussions when dealing with cultural relationships:
  4. There is a tendency to universalize individual experiences as being representative of entire ethnic groups. Negative experiences may be extrapolated to others, while the acceptance of high profile individuals may mask racism in regard to a group as a whole.
  5. Utilize an extensive action plan to educate the community about ethnicity and racism.
  6. Work to exponentially improve the educational success for all children and youth. 
How Do We Develop a Global Perspective in Helping People Understand Our Interconnectedness?
  1. Request that the local media provide information, on a regular basis, on the number of local jobs that are directly related to international markets.
  2. Work with the University of Northern Iowa's business incubator program in order to take advantage of international markets.
  3. Work with the University of Northern Iowa Department of Philosophy and Religion and the Black Hawk County Religious Coalition to create a "Lectionary" to provide common messages on topics that address the global interconnectedness of all people.
  4. Expose/connect our schools and the community at large with the human, international resources we already have available.
  5. Recommend to the Iowa legislature that Iowa students leave school with a thorough knowledge of various political systems in addition to our own.  
Diversity holds rich potential for the growth of the University and metropolitan community. However, recognition of the strengths that come through diversity cannot be left to chance. The University and community must put an action agenda in place that visibly demonstrates the community is progressing toward equity for all people.
Resource List
  • Darling-Hammond, L., & Cobb, V. L. (1996). The changing context of teacher education. In F. B. Murray (Ed.), The teacher educator's handbook: Building a knowledge base for the preparation of teachers (pp. 67-101). New York: Simon & Schuster Macmillan.
  •  Else, D. (Ed.). (1991). Executive summary. Issues facing people of color in education. A collection of papers. Cedar Falls: University of Northern Iowa, Institute for Educational Leadership.
  •  Goodlad, 1. 1. (1994). Educational renewal: Better teachers, better schools. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  •  Hawthorne, F. E. (1992). African Americans in Iowa. A chronicle of contributions: 1830-1992. Des Moines: Iowa Humanities Board.
  •  National Commission on Teaching and America's Future. (1996, September). What matters most: Teaching for America's future. [Summary Report]. New York: Author.

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