America, the plurality
Angie Gick, the owner of Teddy Bear Child Care in Muncie, Indiana, completely changed the day care center’s food options. She hired a Middle Eastern dietitian to help with the change—eliminating pork from the menu. Almost 75 percent of the children at the center were Middle Eastern, and she wanted to take pork off the menu to better serve them, as they are not allowed to have it.
It sounded easy, but there was a lot more involved in cutting out pork than simply taking sausage gravy and pepperoni out of the kitchen.
Meatballs, and anything with lard or gelatin—like canned goods, refried beans, marshmallows, fruit snacks and even some yogurts—had to go. Chicken, too, needed specific monitoring, as only specific kinds are acceptable. Fish sticks also had to be watched.
Today, about 10 percent of the children at Teddy Bear Child Care are Middle Eastern, and 5 percent are Chinese, Angie says. The menu remains pork-free, and she has added vegetarian options for more concerned parents.
The diversity reflected in Angie’s day care might soon be the norm across the nation.
In 2014, more than half of children younger than five were a minority race, as were 49.6 percent of those between the ages five and nine. This means that as these children grow up, more of the American population will consist of minority races. In fact, according to 2014 Census projections, America will be a majority of minority races—a plurality—by the year 2044.
Some states already have a plurality. These states include California, Hawaii and New Mexico. By the year 2060, the minority population in America is expected to rise to 56 percent. This shift is expected to cause many changes, from what children are taught in the classroom to the state of politics, our nation will change as America becomes less white and more diverse.
Educating a Plurality
Some students taking a multicultural education course through Michael Ndemanu, an assistant professor of multicultural education at Ball State University, ask him why his class is important for them—students who grew up in a racially homogenous suburban school system, and plan to return there when they graduate.
The reality, though, is that schools are becoming more racially diverse, and will continue to do so. Ndemanu says that racially homogenous school systems may become more rare as diverse school systems expand.
A 2014 report by the National Center for Education Statistics found that the minority student population became the majority in the 2014-2015 academic year—so this change is already happening.
Angie’s day care is just one of many diverse day cares in the nation. One day, Angie was picking up a child from kindergarten. He had been a student of hers at Teddy Bear Child Care for two years, and in that time he had gone from not knowing a word of English to speaking and understanding it well.
As his kindergarten teacher put him in the car seat, Angie remembers her telling him, “You forgot your lunchbox. Here it is. Oh, I don’t even know why I’m trying. He doesn’t understand me anyway.”
Angie flashed her a disgusted look. She couldn’t believe what she said to him while he sat there completely understanding her words. Angie took over and buckled him into the car seat.
“Did you have lunch today?” Angie asked him.
“What did you have?”
The two carried on an effortless conversation. The boy could talk in complete sentences, but the kindergarten teacher hadn’t seemed to notice that he could understand English.
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