Q: What is the importance of fostering diversity in the classroom?
A: “Perspective and exposure dispel myths that people may have about someone who is very different,” says Erica Merritt, director of culture and strategy at Cleveland Metropolitan School District. “In particular, issues of identity such as gender, race, sexual orientation, class, culture — we believe that it’s extremely valuable for students to have different experiences and exposure in the classroom, early and often because it’s not always easy when you have different experiences. That can often mean different perspectives. The earlier in their safe space of scholarship, [they] can have experiences with someone who has different ideas and finding that they can still be in relation to someone who sees the world and experiences the world very differently, that’s extremely valuable. If we are limited to staying in our comfort zone, then there is no value there.”