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originally made Black Hawk County their home.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:
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
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).
- Support linkages with public schools and community colleges to encourage
ethnically diverse students to pursue careers in teaching.
- 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.
- Develop a comprehensive recruitment and mentoring program and a climate
that encourages minority recruitment, admission, and retention.
- 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.
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:
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.
- 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
- 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
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
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:
- 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.
- 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
- involvement and organization of students to offer input and feedback.
How Do We Resolve the Separateness of Cedar Falls and Waterloo
Created by Diversity?
- 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.
- Change the signals that Cedar Falls and Waterloo communicate
to the public and set aside stereotyping of our communities.
- 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?
- 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.
- Enable individuals/families to move out of existing
- 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
- Through dialogue, recognize that knowledge of each other's
ethnicity does not, in itself, effectively address racism and oppression.
- Ensure that ethnicity is not a barrier for access to
- Make the following statement a part of discussions when
dealing with cultural relationships:
- 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.
- Utilize an extensive action plan to educate the community
about ethnicity and racism.
- Work to exponentially improve the educational success
for all children and youth.
How Do We Develop a Global Perspective in Helping People Understand
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.
- Request that the local media provide information, on
a regular basis, on the number of local jobs that are directly related
to international markets.
- Work with the University of Northern Iowa's business
incubator program in order to take advantage of international markets.
- 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.
- Expose/connect our schools and the community at large
with the human, international resources we already have available.
- Recommend to the Iowa legislature that Iowa students
leave school with a thorough knowledge of various political systems in
addition to our own.
- 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
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