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IMPROVING INTERGROUP RELATIONS AMONG YOUTH: SUMMARY OF A RESEARCH WORKSHOP APPENDIX A Project Descriptions The Workshop on Research to Improve Intergroup Relations Among Youth highlighted the findings of 16 research projects on intergroup relations among youth, each of which received initial funding from the Carnegie Corporation of New York in 1996, as part of its research initiative on race and ethnic relations. This appendix, drawn from the principal investigators' own materials, describes each project in more detail.
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IMPROVING INTERGROUP RELATIONS AMONG YOUTH: SUMMARY OF A RESEARCH WORKSHOP Project Title: Improving Interpersonal and Intergroup Relations Among Youth: A Study of the Processes and Outcomes of Facing History and Ourselves Principal Investigator: Dennis J. Barr Purpose: The research examines intergroup relations among youth in the context of an educational program, Facing History and Ourselves (FHAO), that seeks to promote the development of a more humane and informed citizenry. The two overarching aims of the research were accomplished in two interrelated studies: (a) an outcome study to evaluate whether a classroom-based model of FHAO promotes growth in psychosocial competencies (interpersonal understanding, interpersonal skills, and personal meaning) moral and ethnic identity development, increases in positive civic attitudes and participation, and reductions in fighting behavior and attitudes about racism, and (b) a qualitative case study of an FHAO classroom to gain basic knowledge regarding the development of psychosocial competencies that underlie interpersonal development and intergroup relations. Both studies shared the goal of adapting an existing developmental model for research on intergroup relations. Methodology: The evaluation/outcome study used a quasi-experimental design involving 409 8th grade students and 9 teachers in 14 FHAO and 8 comparison sections. FHAO units were 10 weeks in duration. Questionnaires and a newly developed writing exercise were administered pre-test (fall) and post-test (spring). One diverse 8th grade FHAO classroom in a transitional urban/suburban neighborhood was chosen for the intensive qualitative case study of students engaging with FHAO and issues of intergroup relations in their own lives. Field notes were taken and pre- and post-interviews with students and the teacher were conducted by a participant-observer. Key/Major Findings: The outcome study demonstrates the efficacy of the FHAO program in promoting interpersonal and intergroup relations. FHAO students showed increased relationship maturity and decreased fighting behavior, racist attitudes, and insular ethnic identity relative to comparison students. The study highlights the benefits of using a developmental measure of psychosocial competencies to evaluate developmental character education programs that are based on similar assumptions. The qualitative case study revealed critical incidents in the students'
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IMPROVING INTERGROUP RELATIONS AMONG YOUTH: SUMMARY OF A RESEARCH WORKSHOP peer culture, which highlight the importance to early adolescents of inclusion and belonging and avoiding social isolation and victimization. In one incident, breaches of trust in an ethnically diverse, popular girls' group resulted in the ostracism of one of the members. In another incident, a racist remark by an Eastern-European immigrant girl reinforced her low social status and led to intensified social and even physical victimization. These controversial incidents and dynamics within their peer groups were, in many cases, the key points of reference for students as they made sense of the central themes of their FHAO course. Abstract conceptions such as the roles played by bystander, victim, perpetrator, and resister in history, for example, came to life for individual students as they struggled to make sense of and respond to personal and often painful experiences in their peer relationships. Programmatic/Policy Implications: Both the outcome study and the case study demonstrate that 8th graders are most meaningfully engaged with issues of social justice within their own peer society, suggesting the importance of teaching strategies that encourage connecting FHAO course themes to critical incidents in the students' peer culture that many students are aware of and concerned about. Furthermore, variation in the psychosocial maturity reflected in the students' perspectives on the critical intergroup incidents and the connection of FHAO to such issues suggests the importance of promoting teacher awareness of, and skills in engaging, students who differ from one another, both culturally and developmentally, in relation to intergroup issues raised by the course. This research underscores the value of programs that encourage young people to grapple with the connections between a historical case study of the breakdown of democracy and genocide and their own lives as a means of promoting their active and mature involvement in relation to intergroup issues and problems in their lives. Research on teacher professional development activities, such as those conducted by FHAO, is needed in order to identify those practices most likely to promote the awareness and skills teachers need to sensitively and competently integrate controversial and personally meaningful material within their classrooms. Contact: Dennis J. Barr 63 Norfolk Street Cambridge, MA 02139 617-232-8390 x2203 Email: email@example.com Terry Tollefson Facing History and Ourselves 16 Hurd Road Brookline, MA 02146-6919 617-735-1630
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IMPROVING INTERGROUP RELATIONS AMONG YOUTH: SUMMARY OF A RESEARCH WORKSHOP Project Title: Intergroup Relations Among Middle School Youth Principal Investigators: Cindy Carlson and Laura Lein Purpose: Strengthen our knowledge base of intergroup peer relationship patterns during early adolescence. Methodology: A comprehensive ecological survey was completed by all students in attendance at two public, ethnically diverse middle schools. In addition to the student survey, ethnographic observations were conducted within the school settings and focus groups were conducted with selected groups of students. Key/Major Findings: Intergroup attitudes steadily improved across the early adolescent years. School environment influences many aspects of intergroup relations. Cross-race friendships are highly dependent upon the opportunity structure created by racial percentages. Intergroup relations varied depending upon the multicultural climate, racial balance, and use of tracking in the school. Peer affiliations, both clique and crowd membership, also exert a significant influence on intergroup attitudes and behaviors. Significant ethnic differences characterized intergroup attitudes with minority youth expressing less openness to diversity but non-Hispanic white youth having the fewest cross-race best friendships. Regression models found that both individual and peer processes predicted intergroup attitudes. Mediational models found that high self-esteem mediated the relationship between ethnic identity and openness to others, with higher self-esteem associated with more positive other group attitudes regardless of ethnicity. Programmatic/Policy Implications: Consider carefully racial balance in desegregation patterns; consider the negative impact of within-school segregation patterns created by tracking. Improve multicultural climate of schools regardless of school composition.
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IMPROVING INTERGROUP RELATIONS AMONG YOUTH: SUMMARY OF A RESEARCH WORKSHOP Consider the important role of peers in influencing intergroup attitudes; target interventions to the peer group. Individual and group interventions directed toward the development of a positive self-image may be important contributors to intergroup relations. Contact: Cindy Carlson Professor Department of Educational Psychology University of Texas at Austin Sanchez Building 504 Austin, TX 78712-1296 512-471-4155 x4 512-471-1288 (fax) Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Laura Lein School of Social Work Department of Anthropology University of Texas at Austin 1925 San Jacinto Austin, TX 78712-1203 512-471-9248 512-471-9514 (fax)
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IMPROVING INTERGROUP RELATIONS AMONG YOUTH: SUMMARY OF A RESEARCH WORKSHOP Project Title: Intergroup Understanding, Social Justice, and the “Social Contract” in Diverse Communities of Youth Principal Investigator: Constance A. Flanagan Purpose: This project examines adolescents' perceptions of intergroup relations as these intersect with their norms for citizenship. It examines teens' beliefs about justice and opportunity in America and the correlates of those views. We have framed the project as a study of adolescents' views of the “social contract” in America, by which we mean the sets of rights, privileges, and obligations that bind members of our society to one another. The theoretical basis for the study was drawn from the contention that Americans are fundamentally concerned about equality—but it is the form of equality and the nature of a just society that arouse debate. Methodology: The project involved focus groups and surveys of 12 to 18-year-olds in four communities (three urban and one rural) chosen for their different demographic composition. A total of 1,119 adolescents from African (n = 115), Arab (n = 115), Puerto Rican and Dominican (n = 140), and European (n = 749) backgrounds participated. Key/Major Findings: Although ethnic identification had no influence, personal experiences of prejudice, whether toward oneself or toward friends or loved ones, were strongly related to adolescents' beliefs that America is an unjust society. But school and community practices made a difference. Youth were more likely to believe that America is a just society if they felt their teachers were fair and would intervene in acts of student intolerance or bullying. In addition, youth were more likely to believe that America is a just society if they felt the police in their community were fair and that the community itself was a caring place. Engaging in community service was positively related to young people's desire to promote intergroup understanding and with their commitments to public interest goals. Among the “ enemy images” adolescents listed as prominent in the media today were Arabs, Muslims, African-Americans, Latinos, Asians, communists, gangs, militia groups, and the American government. Programmatic/Policy Implications: Our data point to the pivotal role of teachers in promoting a civic ethic. Choices about intervention or nonintervention in acts of intolerance send a message about the ethics of a civil society and about justice in that society. A hands-off policy that allows
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IMPROVING INTERGROUP RELATIONS AMONG YOUTH: SUMMARY OF A RESEARCH WORKSHOP some youth to be ostracized or bullied sends the wrong message about the principles that bind us together as people. Opportunities to engage in service to the community should be a normative expectation of children's education; in our data, it was correlated with a desire to promote intergroup understanding and to serve the public or common good. Policy directions toward privatizing public education should be viewed with caution if they further homogenize young people's experience. The media have an important role in a democracy—of providing accurate information so that the public can make informed choices. There are two implications regarding the media from our data: first, opportunities to discuss current events with adults can help young people see the connections of their lives with the broader society and appears to be implicated in their desire to promote intergroup understanding; second, youth are cognizant of the “enemy images” promulgated in the media and would benefit from opportunities (in school or youth groups) to deconstruct those stereotypes. Contact: Constance Flanagan Associate Professor Agricultural and Extension Education Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA 16802-2601 814-863-3824 814-863-4753 (fax) Email: email@example.com
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IMPROVING INTERGROUP RELATIONS AMONG YOUTH: SUMMARY OF A RESEARCH WORKSHOP Project Title: A Tale of Two Towns: Intergroup Relations in Culturally Diverse Classrooms and Communities Principal Investigator: Michele Foster Purpose: To explore the effect that attending racially and ethnically mixed classrooms has on intergroup relations among children from diverse backgrounds; to describe the nature of relations between different ethnic groups, and examine the social processes that occur in ethnically diverse classrooms in order to illuminate how these processes lead to specific patterns of intergroup relations. Methodology: We used ethnographic research methods and techniques of analysis. Systematic participant observation, qualitative interviews—informal, unstructured and semistructured, document analysis, and audiotape recording are the primary data analysis. These data have been supplemented by structured techniques, such as network analysis, designed to chart the social networks within the classroom, and sociometric measures, such as peer nomination in which students choose partners for various academic and social activities. Although the study was focused mainly at the school and classroom level, we also collected data on the macro level—institutional and community forces that affect local classroom social processes, behavior, and interaction through time —in order to understand how the historical, cultural, and sociopolitical factors influenced what we were observing in the classrooms. Key/Major Findings: As children move into the intermediate grades (4-5), their participation in voluntary intergroup relations declines. This is more the case for girls than boys. Boys have more intergroup contact and this typically revolves around sports and banter and humor around what they consider “gross” topics. In contrast, as girls enter the intermediate grades, the grooming behavior in which they have engaged since the primary grades takes place strictly intragroup. The elite school district we observed was more self-conscious than the working-class district in its attention to organizing activities related to diversity, such as festivals, music concerts, art displays, and prejudice reduction workshops. Despite this attention, in the more elite school district, African American and Latino children were more likely to be in the lowest-achieving groups compared to Asian and Anglo children, and African American children were most likely to be perceived as discipline problems and as creating more challenges around discipline for
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IMPROVING INTERGROUP RELATIONS AMONG YOUTH: SUMMARY OF A RESEARCH WORKSHOP their teachers. Teachers felt ill-equipped to deal with the tensions around discipline, with the result that African American children were overrepresented among those suspended and referred to special education. While the challenges around discipline most often concerned African American boys, African American girls also presented challenges, particularly when their teachers were male. African American pupils presented fewer discipline problems in the classrooms of African American teachers. African American parents in the elite district also expressed more dissatisfaction over their children's treatment in schools and less ability to influence the schools' decisions regarding their children. Programmatic/Policy Implications: Schools need to go beyond superficial displays of diversity. Professional educators need professional development activities that help them (1) engage (including learning to deal with conflict) and interact productively with parents and students from all ethnic backgrounds; (2) to understand and learn how to use their students' family and cultural backgrounds as resources for engagement in the teaching/learning process rather than as excuses for student disengagement, misbehavior, and failure; (3) develop the capacity, dispositions, and instructional strategies to teach students from different ethnic backgrounds well, so that the status inequities related to academic achievement do not reinforce attitudes and exacerbate intergroup tensions; and (4) to learn how to talk about ethnicity, difference, race, racial inequity, and racism in order to help their students engage in conversations about these issues. Contact: Michele Foster 25 Standish Court Crockett, CA 94525-1417 510-787-1962 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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IMPROVING INTERGROUP RELATIONS AMONG YOUTH: SUMMARY OF A RESEARCH WORKSHOP Project Title: Different and the Same: A Study of the Impact of a Prejudice-Reduction Video Series on Children Principal Investigator: Sherryl Browne Graves Purpose: Do racially and ethnically diverse children exhibit lower levels of prejudice and higher levels of positive intergroup interaction after exposure to a prejudice-reduction video series? Does the nature and amount of prejudice reduction vary with participant characteristics, including race, ethnicity, and gender? How do contextual variables, like school and classroom climate, influence the effect of the video series on children? Do any effects of the video series intervention persist beyond the immediate post-viewing period? Methodology: The research included quasi-experimental designs in naturalistic settings of classrooms. Data was collected from classroom groupings, and therefore random assignment of subjects to intervention and nonintervention conditions was not possible. In some conditions, teachers received training on the use of the series in the classroom along with the teacher's guide; in other cases, teachers received the teacher's guide and had to prepare on their own. Children were individually administered attitudinal, behavioral, and cognitive measures before and after the video intervention. School and classroom climate was assessed in multiple ways, including interviews and classroom observations. Data was collected on how teachers presented the video series to document the context for the findings. Key/Major Findings: Different and the Same had an effect on children. First, in general, children exposed to the intervention were more likely to endorse strategies for promoting prejudice reduction and positive intergroup interaction than were children in the control groups. The effect was greatest for changes in knowledge, followed by changes in attitude. The least affected dependent variable was that of behavior. In general, white children were less likely to endorse inclusive strategies, exhibit positive racial attitudes, or engage in positive intergroup interactions than were other groups of children. School and classroom contexts appear to be influential in mediating the effect of the video on particular outcome variables. Programmatic/Policy Implications: Different and the Same can influence children in different ways. The nature of the effect seemed to vary along a
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IMPROVING INTERGROUP RELATIONS AMONG YOUTH: SUMMARY OF A RESEARCH WORKSHOP number of dimensions. Behavior was the least affected domain, except in a case of teacher-intensive support for a particular video message. While children were generally more likely to select more diverse partners on sociometric tasks after viewing, this greater tendency toward inclusion was not reflected in their observed behavior, which raises the question: What type of video or classroom intervention would be required to alter children's actual intergroup interactions? One area of further exploration may be in the ways in which teachers control and direct group interactions. Perhaps, the future analysis of teacher-student classroom interactions will provide additional insights in this area. A video series designed to reduce prejudice can be effective with young children. The influence of the Different and the Same video series was evident in children and to a lesser extent in their teachers. A video series can affect children, but the nature of the effect varies along a number of dimensions, including interpersonal and contextual dimensions. This study also underscores the added benefits of adult mediated television and video experiences for young children. Adult mediated and extended activities seemed to enhance the influence of Different and the Same on children. This research suggests a need to examine teacher preparation and in-service professional development programs. It also suggests the need to examine the roles of administrative, school district, and state policies regarding the use of video and television in the classroom and the importance of the creation and maintenance of positive intergroup interaction. Contact: Sherryl Browne Graves Educational Foundations and Counseling Programs Hunter College, CUNY 695 Park Avenue NewYork, NY 10021 212-772-4710 212-772-4731 (fax)
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IMPROVING INTERGROUP RELATIONS AMONG YOUTH: SUMMARY OF A RESEARCH WORKSHOP Project Title: Improving Intergroup Relations Through Students' Behavioral Journalism Principal Investigator: Alfred L. McAlister Purpose: Behavioral journalism influences audiences by presenting peer modeling for cognitive processes that lead to behavior change. To investigate whether students' behavioral journalism can change attitudes related to intergroup hostility, a quasi-experimental research project was carried out among two multicultural Houston high school populations. The technique used student newsletters to promote improved intergroup relations among 91 high school students in two Houston schools. Methodology: Sharpstown High School was selected as the program school because of its very high level of diversity compared to other schools in the district. Its population is multicultural with no group in the majority. Another of the more diverse schools was selected as a comparison, although it was larger and had a higher proportion of Hispanic students. In the program school, a survey was conducted in early December 1996 and late May 1997. A survey was also conducted in the comparison school in June 1997. Reading questions from printed questionnaires, students answered questions concerning conflict resolution, group relations and other topics. To protect the confidentiality of respondents and avoid the low response rate that would result from requiring signed parental consent, students did not provide identifying information on the surveys. Key/Major Findings: The differences between intergroup attitudes and intentions in the baseline, follow-up, and comparison groups are generally consistent with the hypothesized effect of vicarious “extended contact” provided through students ' behavioral journalism. Willingness for intergroup affiliation at school was significantly increased, and there is strong evidence for an effect on attitudes toward intermarriage. Perceptions of intergroup similarity were also increased. Effects on superiority beliefs and sympathy for other groups were small and not consistently significant. The campaign evidently was effective in promoting moral engagement by changing beliefs about the acceptability of violence, with changes coming mainly among those with the most aggressive attitudes. Although the peer modeling stories in the newsletters demonstrated skills for intergroup communication, these were not measured. Instruments for assessing selfefficacy for intergroup communication should be included in future stud-
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IMPROVING INTERGROUP RELATIONS AMONG YOUTH: SUMMARY OF A RESEARCH WORKSHOP ies of this technique. The reduced intentions for intergroup hostility among students at Sharpstown High School suggest that the cognitive effects were sufficient to achieve a moderate reduction in the likelihood of discriminatory behaviors. Programmatic/Policy Implications: Despite their shortcomings, the data presented provide evidence that students' behavioral journalism can be used to promote tolerance and prevent intergroup hostility. Further application and testing is clearly warranted. The newsletter approach, with university students distributing stories about how young people successfully cope with diversity, was feasible and well accepted by the high school student audience. We are presently training Sharpstown students to produce and distribute newsletters themselves, with further follow-up and replication in the comparison school. During future years we plan to expand the “Students for Peace” campaign throughout the Houston school district and to other interested communities. Because of its flexibility and convenience for mass application, this method can efficiently reach diverse communities in large populations. Contact: Alfred L. McAlister Behavioral Sciences University of Texas, School of Public Health 2609 University Avenue Austin, TX 78705 512-471-5801 512-471-8635 (fax) Email: email@example.com
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IMPROVING INTERGROUP RELATIONS AMONG YOUTH: SUMMARY OF A RESEARCH WORKSHOP Project Title: Improving Interethnic Relations Among Youth: A School-Based Project Involving Teachers, Parents, and Children Principal Investigators: Beverly Daniel Tatum and Phyllis C. Brown Purpose: School-based efforts to improve intergroup relations among youth are usually focused directly on the young people themselves, ignoring the potentially critical influence that teachers' and parents' attitudes and actions may have on student behavior. This two-year project investigated the combined effect on young people's intergroup relations of interventions involving teachers, students, and parents in a small Northeastern school district with an increasing school population of color (presently 24 percent). In particular, the project was designed to facilitate the positive development of racial/ethnic identity not only for adolescents, but also for the adult educators who work with them and the parents who hope to guide them through this developmental period. Methodology: The first component focused on the development of adolescents' racial/ethnic identity as a strategy for improving intergroup relations. Approximately 50 middle school students from six racial/ethnic groups (Latino, African-American, Asian Pacific American, European-American, Jewish, and biracial) were recruited each year to participate in an after-school Cultural Identity Group (CIG) program. The program consisted of weekly small-group discussions held over a 16-week period, first in same-race and later in “blended” groups. The groups provided the opportunity to discuss the impact of race and racism, to explore one's own sense of race and ethnicity and that of others. The impact of the groups was measured with the use of pre- and post-administration of Jean Phinney's Multiethnic Identity Measure, and through the use of interviews with a representative sample (39) of the CIG group participants. The second component of the intervention consisted of a semester-long professional development course that required participants to examine closely their own sense of ethnic and racial identity and their attitudes toward other groups, as well as develop effective antiracist curricula and educational practices that will be affirming of student identities. It is assumed that teachers must look at their own racial identity in order to be able to support the positive development of their students' racial/ethnic identities. They must also be able to engage in racial dialogue themselves in order to facilitate student conversation.
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IMPROVING INTERGROUP RELATIONS AMONG YOUTH: SUMMARY OF A RESEARCH WORKSHOP The course was offered four times over the two-year period, and 83 teachers from the district participated. Data sources for the evaluation of this component included ethnographic observations recorded by an ethnographer, the reflection papers and action plans produced by the participants over the course of the semester, and pre- and post-interviews with a subset (14) of participating educators. The third component involved a series of parent meetings designed to provide the parents of middle school students with information about adolescent identity development and intergroup relations in the school, to encourage positive intergroup interactions among adults as a way of modeling desirable behavior, and to serve as a way of identifying parent and community resources who might help with the CIG project. Data collection was limited to parent evaluations of the workshop series, which were very positive. Key/Major Findings: Along with apparent shifts in racial awareness and sense of racial identity (as revealed in interviews and reflection papers), there were also shifts in classroom practice (as revealed in an analysis of the action plans). A total of 56 percent involved efforts to make the curriculum more inclusive of people of color; 30 percent focused on improving relationships between teachers and parents or students of color; and 14 percent involved efforts to change institutional policies and practices, such as tracking and monolingual assessment procedures. Programmatic/Policy Implications: In order to interrupt the cycle of racism in society, young people need an understanding of how prejudice and racism have operated to divide us from one another. They also need to feel empowered to do something about it. Opportunities to discuss race, ethnicity, and oppression in a safe environment should be available to young people, especially in school. However, many adults, including educators, are both uncomfortable and unskilled in how to talk about racial issues with children. Many teachers have had limited opportunity to explore these issues as part of their own educational experience, and as a consequence, hesitate to lead discussions about racial tensions in society for fear that they will generate classroom conflict. Unfortunately, when school personnel avoid a proactive examination of racial issues, they may find themselves trying to manage crisis situations as the result of erupting racial tensions. Increasingly, incidents of racial intolerance and hostility at all age levels are being reported in schools.
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IMPROVING INTERGROUP RELATIONS AMONG YOUTH: SUMMARY OF A RESEARCH WORKSHOP It should be clear that avoidance of race-related discussions is not the answer. Yet too many teachers are clearly confused about how to proceed. Our data suggest that young people and adults alike need and benefit from “safe spaces” to explore personal attitudes and to reflect upon their own and others' racial and ethnic identity. Creating such opportunities can have a positive impact on interethnic relations in schools. Contact: Beverly Daniel Tatum Dean of the College Mount Holyoke College 202 Mary Lyon Hall South Hadley, MA 01075 413-538-2481 413-538-3059 (fax) Email: BTatum@MTHolyoke.edu
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IMPROVING INTERGROUP RELATIONS AMONG YOUTH: SUMMARY OF A RESEARCH WORKSHOP Project Title: Gender and Race Work in an Urban Magnet School Principal Investigators: Lois Weis, Michele Fine, and Linda Powell Purpose: In this project, we seek to understand personal biographies of race/ethnicity and cross-racial relations of youths and adults (gathered in individual and focus group interviews) and to explicate the structural conditions of three interracial communities. Through observation, interviews, and document collection, we attempted to demystify the process by which adults and youths interact in such settings. It is important that we not portray these settings as though they were simply free of adult intervention—to do so would be to erase the powerful presence that adults have in establishing and permitting “safety zones” in which interracial relations can grow and be nourished. Thus, we have chosen sites in which we know that adults are working, across racial and ethnic groups and self-consciously, on creating “free spaces” for youths to come together intellectually, aesthetically, and politically. We conducted interviews and observations in order to understand how such spaces are constructed, secured, sabotaged, resurrected, and maintained over time. Delineating these critical elements allowed us both to theorize about racial identities and cross-racial and ethnic relations among youths, and to develop for practitioners some frameworks within which they, too, can imagine and create such spaces. Methodology: Michelle Fine conducted research inside a 9th grade classroom within an integrated public school, in which students across racial, ethnic, and class backgrounds come together in a world literature course. The faculty—one African American man and one white woman—collaborate regularly to sustain intellectually and politically rich classes. The focus is on desegregated classrooms and detracking. Linda Powell conducted research within a professional development setting for urban teachers engaging in “family group” and analyzed individual and group interviews with teachers. Lois Weis worked with a group of racially mixed 9th and 12th grade girls, who are participating in the program in an arts-based urban magnet school in Buffalo. The program, called My Bottom Line, is an abstinence-based sex education program that wanders through enormously interesting issues regarding body image, sexuality, and gender roles in U.S. society for a full semester. She interviewed young women as to their experiences in this
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IMPROVING INTERGROUP RELATIONS AMONG YOUTH: SUMMARY OF A RESEARCH WORKSHOP group as well as broader issues concerning race and gender within the contexts of intergroup relations in the 1990s. Key/Major Findings:1 Participant observation and interview data were gathered during spring semester 1997 at a magnet school (grades 5-12) geared toward the arts in Buffalo, New York. The school is highly mixed ethnically and racially, having 45 percent white, 45 percent African American, 8 percent Latino/Latina, 1 percent First Nations People, and 1 percent Asian students. The officially stated goal of My Bottom Line is “to prevent or delay the onset of sexual activity, build self esteem and increase self sufficiency in young women through an abstinence based, gender specific prevention education program.” Students voluntarily attend the program during study hall, participating one or two times a week. The expressed intent of the group is one of encouraging abstinence among girls who are not yet sexually active. The site, in addition to dealing with issues of sexual abstinence, was intentionally established in order to empower young women, particularly in their relationships with young men. The adults in charge explain that women's bodies must be under the control of women themselves and should not be a site for male control, abuse, or exploitation. In addition, the program provided participants a space within which personal and collective identity formation across racial and ethnic lines potentially takes place. The study assessed the extent to which this space offers a “home” within which social stereotypes are contested and new identities tried on. Programmatic/Policy Implications: In this program, young women traverse a variety of subjects regarding race, gender, sexuality, and men. Moving through these issues, they begin to form a new collective based on a stronger woman/girl, one who is different in many ways from those left behind emotionally in the neighborhood. It is a collective that surges across racial groups, although not necessarily in terms of intimate friendships. But these young women, nevertheless, share the most intimate pieces of themselves in the group setting, creating a form of friendship that may or may not transcend the bounds of the school, or even the group. They think the group gives them the space they need to think things out—to live life differently than those they feel are destined to failure. 1 These findings refer specifically to the work of Lois Weis, who participated in the workshop.
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IMPROVING INTERGROUP RELATIONS AMONG YOUTH: SUMMARY OF A RESEARCH WORKSHOP Data suggest that this program offers a powerful space for revising gender and ethnic racial subjectivities as students gain a set of lenses and allies for social critiques. Students “bear secrets,” doing so across racial and ethnic lines, setting the stage for cross-race/cross ethnic interactions around important issues in the future, in spite of the limited purpose under which the group was initially formed. Contact: Lois Weis Organization Administration and Policy State University of New York, Buffalo 468 Baldy Hall Buffalo, NY 14260 716-645-6626 716-645-2481 (fax) Email: Weis@acsu.Buffalo.edu
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IMPROVING INTERGROUP RELATIONS AMONG YOUTH: SUMMARY OF A RESEARCH WORKSHOP Project Title: Early Adolescent Development Study Principal Investigator: Diane Hughes Purpose: The Early Adolescent Development Study is a two-year shortterm longitudinal study focusing on intergroup relations, school experiences, and psychosocial adjustment among a sample of 991 elementary and middle school youth (531 white, 400 African American, 29 Hispanic, and 31 Asian or Asian American). The study focuses primarily on elaborating developmental and social factors that facilitate or impede positive intergroup friendships during middle childhood. By following students over a two-year period, we were aiming to examine the extent to which there were shifts in children's orientations toward same-race and other-race peers over the course of several ecological transitions, including that from elementary to middle school in 5th grade and that from heterogeneous to formally tracked classrooms in 6th grade. Methodology: The program was designed to follow longitudinally a relatively large sample of youth attending 3rd through 5th grades in an integrated suburban school district in the Northeast. Several characteristics of the schools and of the district were of particular importance in the design and conceptualization of the study. First, whereas the two middle schools (housing the 5th grade students) were racially balanced, reflecting the overall population of the district (about 50 percent European American, 40 percent African American, and 10 percent children of other ethnic backgrounds) the elementary schools (housing the 3rd and 4th graders) varied in racial composition. Two elementary schools were predominantly (56 percent) African American schools, one elementary school was predominantly (61 percent) European American, and two of the elementary schools were racially balanced. Moreover, whereas school policy dictated heterogeneous ability grouping among 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders, students were tracked within homogeneous classrooms in 6th grade. Key/Major Findings: With the exception of 3rd grade African American students, a greater proportion of students reported same-race as compared to other-race friendships. In addition, across all grades, white students were more likely to report same-race friends and less likely to report other-race friends than were their African American counterparts. However, whereas white students' friendship patterns were relatively stable across time, African American students showed an increasing tendency toward
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IMPROVING INTERGROUP RELATIONS AMONG YOUTH: SUMMARY OF A RESEARCH WORKSHOP same-race peers. For instance, 45 percent of African American 3rd grade students as compared to 70 percent of African American 5th grade students reported that “many” or “all” of their friends were from their racial group. The shift away from other-race friends was less dramatic but significant nevertheless: 45 percent of African American 3rd grade students as compared with 30 percent of African American 5th grade students reported that “all” or “many” of their friends were a different race from themselves. In a school district that is fully integrated, one would expect about equal numbers of students reporting same-race and other-race friendships. Clearly, then, race is an important basis upon which student's friendship choices are made. Again, findings indicate greater same-race peer preference, and greater stability over time, among white as compared to African American students. Analyses also suggested that the most dramatic shift toward same-race peer relationships over time was evidenced within the subsample of students who were in 3rd grade during year one of the study. Finally, we examined relationships between parents' reports about their communications to children about race and children 's reports about their peer relationships. Although children are exposed to, and absorb, messages about race from many sources, including teachers, the media, community members, and others, parental attitudes and messages are likely to exert an especially powerful influence on children's attitudes toward their own and other ethnic groups. Parents transmit these attitudes to children intentionally and inadvertently by way of implicit and explicit messages encoded in their ongoing interactions with their children. Programmatic/Policy Implications: In many ways, the findings regarding children's peer preferences raise more questions than they answer. These findings support findings from other studies regarding the prevalence of same-race peer preferences. In general, student reports about their peer relationships and contacts suggest an overwhelming preference for same-race peers among a substantial majority of youth. Although age-related increases in same-race peer preference were evident in cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses, these were much less pronounced and nonsignificant when differences in school racial composition were accounted for. Among African American students, a variety of individual and ecological factors were associated with patterns of peer preference. African American students who identified more strongly with their racial group and actively engaged in information-seeking about race reported more same-race
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IMPROVING INTERGROUP RELATIONS AMONG YOUTH: SUMMARY OF A RESEARCH WORKSHOP and fewer other-race friendships. Perceived unfair treatment was also associated with African American and white students' peer preferences, as was their gender. Not surprisingly, parental socialization messages were quite strongly associated with African American students' peer preference patterns. Perhaps the most puzzling aspect has been the absence of a relationship between proposed predictor variables and peer preference patterns within the subsample of white students. This is undoubtedly due, in part, to the relative lack of variation in these students peer preferences. The overwhelming majority of them reported many same-race and few other-race peer choices. Planned analyses of school structural variables and classroom pedagogical practices as reported by teachers may add additional insight into these phenomena. Contact: Diane Hughes Psychology Department New York University 6 Washington Place, Rm. 280, 2nd Floor New York, NY 10003 212-998-7906 212-995-4018 (fax) Email: Hughes@xp.psych.nyu.edu
Representative terms from entire chapter: