English and journalism teacher
Understanding and Covering Diversity in Your Own School
Feature story hallmarks
Understanding and Covering Diversity in Your Own School
Title: Understanding and Covering Diversity in Your Own School
Description of School and Students
This unit on diversity issues will be taught to junior and senior level newspaper students in a public urban high school of approximately 4,500 students. The class size will range from 15 to 20 students who are predominately Hispanic and African-American. (Student Snapshot: Hispanic 58 percent, African-American 48 percent, Asian 3 percent, white 1 percent; Skyline Center in the Dallas Independent School District is a Title I school with 56 percent of students on free or reduced lunch.)
- How do minority student journalists recognize, classify, contend with and arm themselves with knowledge regarding diversity issues within their own high school and beyond?
- "Best Practices for Newspaper Journalists"
- "Respecting All Cultures: A practical ethics handbook for journalists"
- "Symbols of Ideal Life: Social Documentary Photography in America 1890-1950 "
- "The Body and the Lens: Photography 1839 to the Present"
- Essential Questions
- What do minority students need to understand about diversity within their own school?
- What do minority students need to understand about diversity beyond their school, at the collegiate and professional levels of American society?
- Critical Engagement of Questions
- What has race got to do with it?
- What is race and racial profiling?
- What are the origins of racial profiling?
- What are the most common forms of racial profiling today?
- How do students recognize discrimination, prejudice, and racism?
- What should minority students expect when entering a predominately Anglo-centric university? How have school graduates dealt with diversity in large state universities?
- Are university quotas good for everyone and why do some universities deny
admissions based on quotas?
Performances of Understanding, Rationale, and Time Line
Arming minority high school journalism students with the knowledge to make informed decisions about diversity issues within their own community and beyond is essential in establishing and maintaining equality.
- Students will be divided into diverse groups of four. Two black students will work with two Hispanic students. The groups will be told to list and describe their own experiences with diversity, discrimination, and racial stereotypes of their own race and others. From the start, students will not be told the topic or why they have been placed into multicultural groups.
- Within student discussion groups, utilize Keith Woods’ “Talking Across Difference” from the Poynter Institute:
- Be honest
- Seek clarification
- Challenge with passion
- Be willing to change
- Stay in the room
- Using the Woods’ handout, clarify and make certain students understand the ground rules prior to engaging in discussion and description of their own and other racial diversity, discrimination, and stereotypes.
- Students are required to record notes and quotes from their fellow group members.
- Require students to write a brief summary of information they learned about their own perceptions of race and how their discussions affected them personally, emotionally.
- Explain that racial profiling and stereotyping has been alive for centuries but became popular in America with the advent of slavery.
- Provide examples of photographic racial profiling from the early 20th century. Show examples of Europeans who were profiled in photographs from "Symbols of Ideal Life. "
- Ask students to describe ways in which minorities are profiled today.
- Assign two student editors to collect profiling statistics from the Internet on traffic violations, drug arrests and death penalty.
- Assign two student editors to collect minority enrollment statistics on four of the largest universities in the state and compare those statistics with minority enrollment statistics on four universities outside the state's borders. Assign graphics editors to compile statistics and create bar graphs that compare your state's statistics with universities outside the state.
Activity 3: Covering the uncovered
- Assign four staff writers to interview four minority teachers within the school and question them about their perceptions of race relations within the school and beyond the school.
- Assign four staff writers to interview four non-minority teachers within the school and question them about their perceptions of race relations within the school and beyond the school.
- Make certain that all questions are the same and that students have developed a rapport with the teachers they interview.
- Compile responses and create a picture poll using teacher responses to questions asked and answered.
- Assign two editors to contact newspaper staffer graduates who are currently attending four-year major universities within the state. Question students about their experiences and challenges regarding race relations in a predominantly white university.
Resources and references available to assist student reporters:
- Keith Woods’ "Covering the Undercovered."
- Assign student editors to combine their interview responses and generate an in-depth news/feature story (minimum 750 words) profiling the diversity experiences of your school's graduates at major state universities..
- Compare and contrast diversity enrollment at two major public universities.
- Contact and interview both school presidents and ask what is being done to increase and foster minority enrollment at both schools.
- Invite both presidents to visit the school's news room on their recruiting visits to your high school.
- If presidents don’t visit your high school this fall, contact their respective offices and request teleconference interviews.
- Ask specific questions regarding the use of quotas and if the university does not utilize quotas, what are they doing to increase and retain minority students.
- Compile responses of presidents into a news/feature on the state of diversity in your state.
Student editors and staff writers will compile all stories, photos, and statistics into a comprehensive center spread special on diversity in post-secondary education. Student work will be assessed according to depth of interviews, ability to access sources, and final copy published in the school paper. Students will be graded on content and structure of their joint project.
- "Best Practices for Newspaper Journalists." Robert J. Haiman, The Freedom Forum’s Free Press/Fair Press Project.
- "Respecting All Cultures: A practical ethics handbook for journalists." Byrd, Joann. April 2002.
- "Symbols of Ideal Life: Social Documentary Photography in America 1890-1950."
Strange, Maren. Cambridge University Press, 1989.
- "The Body and The Lens: Photography 1839 to the Present." Pultz, John. Calmann and
King Ltd., 1995.
- University Web sites