Leadership implications of the perceptions of multicultural issues and cultural diversity of Bladen County educators

Jennifer Smith, Fayetteville State University


John Dewey (1933) indicated that the most mature person in any social setting is the one who is the most adaptable to other people's needs. However, in many classrooms, thirty students are adapting to the teacher rather than the teacher adapting to them. The United States is a “salad bowl” of diverse cultural, ethnic, and racial groups. These diverse groups reflect a large part of public school populations. And in today's classrooms teachers should be able to adapt to the cultural diversity of their student population. School leaders are to find ways for teachers to overcome the unequal relationships between the cultures within schools. The leader should also empower his/her teachers to strive for equity for their students regardless of race, gender, culture, or national origin. So, in order to be successful with this mission, multicultural education and cultural diversity issues must be strong educational values of principals, as well as teachers. The population sample for this study included 309 elementary/middle school teachers and 18 elementary/middle school administrators (principals and assistant principals) employed by Bladen County Schools. This is a public rural district located in North Carolina that serves 5,650 students. The purpose of this study was to answer the following research questions: (1) Are there statistically significant differences between teachers' and school leaders' scores on the following subgroups: (a) personal beliefs, (b) professional beliefs, (c) race, (d) gender, (e) social class, (f) ability, (g) language/immigration, (h) sexual orientation, (i) multicultural education, and (j) overall beliefs about diversity as measured by the Beliefs About Diversity Scale? (2) Are there statistically differences between scores for Bladen County teachers and Bladen County school leaders about multicultural education issues as measured by the Multicultural Knowledge Test? Data for this study were collected using the Beliefs About Diversity Scale and the Multicultural Knowledge Test developed by Pohan and Aguilar. Administrators scored higher than teachers in all areas tested by question 1, thus reflecting that they were more sensitive toward personal beliefs about diversity. The subgroup with the greatest difference in mean score was “sexual orientation” (teacher, M = 2.80 and administrators, M = 3.68). The subgroup with the least difference in mean scores was “multicultural education” (teacher, M = 3.68 and administrators, M = 3.74). In regards to question 2, teachers did not score at or above average as computed by a t-test, with a test value of 4.00. The mean score (M = 3.08) for teachers indicated a multicultural knowledge level significantly below average. Conversely, administrators ( M = 3.93) scored at an average level.

Subject Area

Bilingual education|School administration

Recommended Citation

Smith, Jennifer, "Leadership implications of the perceptions of multicultural issues and cultural diversity of Bladen County educators" (2002). ETD Collection for Fayetteville State University. AAI3345790.