California, and SFUSD, lead way on multiculturalism at schools

The state of public education in California is often cited as a bellwether for the rest of the country — although not always as a harbinger of good things to come. During the past decade, when academics and advocates referred to California’s education system, it was as a muddled model — low scores on national tests; underfunded schools; lawsuits stemming from unequal access to qualified teachers.

Those problems persist, but now, California is emerging as a national leader in promoting multiculturalism in schools. At the start of this school year, the rest of the country arrived at a place that California reached in the 1988-89 school year, with public schools enrolling a majority of minority students.

Although it varies from state to state, of the 50 million students enrolled in public schools nationwide this year, more than 25 million, or just over half, are Latino, African American, Asian and Native American, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. California is an outlier with three-quarters minority students.

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