Letter: Race discussions enhance schooling

Classroom chalkboard.

Classroom chalkboard. (Credit: iStock)

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Reading Ruben Navarrette Jr.'s essay, "The boundaries of immigrant identity" [Opinion, Aug. 17], brings to mind the emotional impact, on young people, of the never-ending stream of events with racial and ethnic overtones -- for example, war, terrorism, bias crimes and racially charged jury trials.

One can only hope, as a new school year approaches, that along with a focus on standardized testing, educators find time to encourage discussion about ethnic identity, prejudice and intergroup relations. Opportunities for healthy exchanges of ideas and opinions about controversial subjects in a safe environment enables young people to test their beliefs and attitudes, to practice listening to others' views, to respectfully express differences, and to find common ground.

National research affirms that feeling connected to school is a critical variable for students' success. Teens who feel connected are less likely to engage in such behaviors as self-harming, violence, early sexual activity, eating disorders and suicide. Recognizing and building on the strengths and assets of children and youths and promoting social and emotional learning are essential to optimizing connectedness.

Andrew Malekoff, Long Beach

Editor's note: The writer is the executive director of the nonprofit North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center in Roslyn Heights.
 

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