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Multicultural Education in the United States

Despite the United States being a melting pot of various races and ethnicities, its education did not always address it. Rather, those responsible for educational programs insisted on retaining the Anglo-American angle. It caused other cultural groups to seek solutions, which led to the emergence of schools centered on a particular culture. Some time passed after those initiatives, and the current education landscape is shifting towards multiculturalism. This paper will discuss the past attitudes towards multicultural education and the changes it experienced.

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Originally, the reaction to educational pluralism was negative, characterized by a sense of superiority. Scholars argued that the unifying Anglo-American perspective was sufficient, as it served as the country’s foundation and the source of its values (Spring, 2018). They are democratic, derived from the British tradition, and arguably advanced the minority groups’ rights (Spring, 2018). On the other hand, scholars dismissed education centered on other cultures, claiming that it exaggerated their importance and performed a therapeutic function (Spring, 2018). Such criticism was in response to Afrocentric and similar schools gradually opening and expanding (Spring, 2018). Those institutions promoted the perspectives different from the Anglo-American one and helped minorities socialize (2018). Perhaps, for the time, such schools were an appropriate strategy against the superiority exhibited by the unifying culture supporters.

Nowadays, the issues related to multicultural education persist and require new approaches. For instance, while diversity became an inherent part of education and the curriculum, it adopted a peaceful approach instead of condemning racism (Sleeter, 2018). The bridge between the bilingual and multicultural approaches also remains, as both have separate groups supporting them (Sleeter, 2018). However, one of the positive features of multicultural education is that it considers minority groups outside of one’s race or ethnicity (Banks, 2016). It could be beneficial for racial and ethnic minorities, too, as they may belong to more than one minoritized group, which was ignored by ethnocentric schools (Banks, 2016; Spring, 2018). Overall, multicultural education continues to develop and find solutions to the existing flaws.

In conclusion, multicultural education is a topical issue for the US, considering its racial and social diversity. The phenomenon is historically controversial, and many problems are still present. The solutions vary from ethnocentric schools to the current diversified model, but they were unable to address all adjacent matters. In the future, multicultural education might finally achieve the level of incorporating bilingualism, racial theory, and other related concepts in a more robust way.


Banks, J. A. (2016). Multicultural education: Characteristics and goals. In J. A. Banks & C. A. McGee Banks (Eds.), Multicultural education: Issues and perspectives (9th ed., pp. 2-23). John Wiley & Sons.

Sleeter, C. E. (2018). Multicultural education past, present, and future: Struggles for dialog and power-sharing. International Journal of Multicultural Education, 20(1), 5-20. Web.

Spring, J. (2018). The American school: From the Puritans to the Trump era (10th ed.). Routledge.

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