Diversity, cultures embraced at Utah student summit

(KUTV) The Multicultural Youth Summit drew 1,500 students from all over Utah to the Salt Palace Convention Center on Wednesday.

“What I saw were exciting moments of learning, participating, engaging,” said Dr. Jackie Thompson, Director of Educational Equity at the Davis School District.

There were students of all races and ethnic backgrounds at the event, but it was a big opportunity to tell kids of color that they matter.  It was also a chance for Caucasian students to be with students of other backgrounds and learn about them.

Dr. Thompson said the energy and enthusiasm that speakers at the event inspired in students who attended, can be mimicked in the classroom where minority students as a group, struggle to excel.

Results from the recent Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence (SAGE) test, showed that while all Utah students need to work harder to achieve proficiency in various subjects, minority students continue to lag behind.

Dr. Thompson said what the Multicultural Youth Summit showed is that “culture matters.”  She said that in order for minority students to reach their potential, schools have to take into account students’ diverse cultures and backgrounds so that kids see themselves in their own schools.  Thompson said schools can do this by creating lessons that reflect the school’s diversity and by hiring teachers that share students’ backgrounds.

At Davis School District, Thompson said 15 percent of students are minorities, while only three percent of teachers are minorities.   She said schools have to make changes soon as minority students are growing at three times the pace of Caucasian students.  “It has to get better now.  We don’t have a second chance with our students.  We have to intervene immediately.”

Copyright 2014 Sinclair Broadcast Group

Link:  KUTV.com