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Pioneers of Multicultural Education

| James Banks | Geneva Gay | Carl Grant | Sonia Nieto | Christine Sleeter |

“The 1980s saw the emergence of a body of scholarship on multicultural education by progressive education activists and researchers who refused to allow schools to address their concerns by simply adding token programs and special units on famous women or famous people of color.” …”James Banks, one of the pioneers of multicultural education, was among the first multicultural education scholars to examine schools as social systems from a multicultural context (1981).”

"In order to move beyond slight curricular changes, they (other K-12 teachers-turned-scholars including Carl Grant, Christine Sleeter, Geneva Gay, and Sonia Nieto) built on Banks's work, examining other structural foundations of schools and how these contributed to educational inequities."

So as the 1980s flowed into the final decade of the twentieth century, multicultural education scholars refocused the struggle on developing new approaches and models of education and learning built on a foundation of social justice, critical thinking, and equal opportunity. Many others followed as the culture of American schools began to change. (Gorski)

All of these bios and more were found (in part) at the NAME website. To find out more about NAME and other organizations that support Multicultural Education, Check out our Index of  Professional Organizations

How would you integrate social justice, critical thinking and equal opportunity into a multicultural program?

James A. Banks

is Russell F. Stark University Professor and Director of the Center for Multicultural Education at the University of Washington, Seattle ( (NAME website)

Dr. Banks is a leader in his teaching and research fields of social studies education and multicultural education. (UW at Seattle website)According to Gorski, James Banks was one of the pioneers of multicultural education. Banks was among the first educational scholars to examine schools as social systems from a multicultural context (1981). He focused on the concept of “educational equality.” “According to Banks, in order to maintain a “multicultural school environment,” all aspects of the school had to be examined and transformed, including policies, teachers' attitudes, instructional materials, assessment methods, counseling, and teaching styles (1981; 1989). (Gorski)

Banks is a past president of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS). His books include Teaching Strategies for Ethnic Studies (Fifth Edition, Allyn and Bacon, 2003); Educating Citizens in a Multicultural Society (Teachers College Press, 1997), Cultural Diversity and Education: Foundations, Curriculum and Teaching (Fourth Edition, Allyn and Bacon, 2001), and Diversity and Citizenship Education: Global Perspectives (Jossey-Bass, 2004). (NAME website)

Dr. Banks received the AERA Research Review Award in 1994, the National Association of Multicultural Education Book Award in 1997, and was the recipient of the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc. (TESOL) 1998 President's Award. (UW at Seattle website)

James Banks is known for his many written works and the Model and Benchmarks that he introduced.

Hart describes the James Banks Model as containing 5 elements
or ‘Dimensions of Multicultural Education.” Those Five Elements include:

1. Content Integration
2. Prejudice Reduction
3. Equity Pedagogy
4. Knowledge Construction
5. Empowering School Culture & Social Structure

According to the INTIME website, Banks (1999) lists 8 multicultural benchmarks
for schools to utilize in order to maintain an effective multicultural school.

1. A multicultural education policy statement sanctions and
supports diversity.

2. The staff has positive attitudes and expectations toward
diverse students.

3. The school staff reflects ethnic and cultural diversity.

4. The curriculum is transformational and action-focused.

5. Parent participation provides a cultural context for teaching
and a link with student personal/cultural knowledge.

6. Teaching strategies are constructivist, personalized,
empowering, and participatory.

7. Teaching materials present diverse racial, ethnic, and cultural
perspectives on events, concepts, and issues.

8. Each program component is monitored on a continuing basis.(1999)

(Hart, Highlights Website)



Geneva Gay

is Professor of Education at the University of Washington, Seattle. She is the recipient of the 1990 Distinguished Scholar Award, the 1994 Multicultural Educator Award, and the 2001 Outstanding Writing Award from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE). She is internationally known for her scholarship in multicultural education, and as a specialist in curriculum design and intersections of culture, ethnicity, and learning. (Laser Website)

Professor Gay has contributed to numerous journals and books in these fields. Among the books to which she has contributed are Teaching Ethnic Studies: Concepts and Strategies, Language and Cultural Diversity in American Education: Curriculum Guidelines for Multicultural Education, and the Handbook of Research on Multicultural Education. “Her most recent book is Culturally Responsive Teaching: Theory, Research, and Practice (Teachers College Press, 2000).” (CME website)

“One of the most distinctive and salient traits of the United States is the way in which its incredible diversity has been fashioned into a unique culture that is a mosaic or synergy of elements from many cultures. Ethnic and cultural pluralism is an everpresent influence in all aspects of American history, life, and culture.” (Gay 1994)





Carl Grant

is Hoefs-Bascom Professor of Teacher Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University Wisconsin-Madison. He is a former classroom teacher and administrator, and has spent time in England as a Fulbright Scholar.

He was President of the National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME) from 1993-1999. He was also Editor of Review of Educational Research from 1996-1999, and served as a member of the National Research Council Committee on Assessment and Teacher Quality from 1999-2001.

In 1990 the Association of Teacher Educators selected Dr. Grant as one of the 70 Leaders in Teacher Education. In 1997 he received the School of Education Distinguished Achievement Award from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. In 2001 he received the G. Pritchy Smith Multicultural Educator Award from NAME and the Angela Davis Race, Gender, and Class Award from the Race, Gender, and Class Project.

Some of Dr. Grant’s recent publications include - Grant, C.A. (2003). An education guide to diversity in the classroom. Boston: Houghton Mifflin; Grant, C.A. & Lei, Joy L. (2001). Global construction of multicultural education: Theories and realities. Mahwah, N.J.: Erlbaum; Grant, C.A. & Sleeter, C.E. (2003). Turning on learning: Five approaches for multicultural teaching plans for race, class, gender, and disability (3rd edition). New York: Wiley and Grant, C.A. & Sleeter, CE (2003). Making choices for multicultural education: Five approaches to race, class and gender (4th edition). New York: Wiley. His book, Global Constructions of Multicultural Education: Theories and Realities (Lawrence Erlbaum, 2001) received the Philip C. Chinn Multicultural Book Award from NAME. (NAME website)

The website for Carl A. Grant's website is:



Sonia Nieto

is Professor of Education, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She has been a teacher for 35 years, teaching students at all levels from elementary grades through graduate school. Her research focuses on multicultural education, the education of Latinos, immigrants, and other culturally and linguistically diverse students, and Puerto Rican children’s literature. Her books include Affirming Diversity: The Sociopolitical Context of Multicultural Education (4th ed., 2003), The Light in Their Eyes: Creating Multicultural Learning Communities (1999), and Puerto Rican Students in U.S. Schools (2000). She has also published numerous book chapters and articles in such journals as The Harvard Educational Review, Educational Forum, Multicultural Education, and Theory into Practice.

She serves on several national advisory boards that focus on educational equity and social justice, and she has received many awards for her advocacy and activism, including the 1989 Human and Civil Rights Award from the Massachusetts Teachers Association, the 1995 Drylongso Award for Anti-Racist Activists from Community Change in Boston, the 1996 Teacher of the Year Award from the Hispanic Educators of Massachusetts, and the 1997 Multicultural Educator of the Year Award from NAME, the National Association for Multicultural Education.

She was an Annenberg Institute Senior Fellow (1998-2000) and she received an honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Lesley College in Cambridge, Massachusetts in May, 1999. In June, 2000, she was awarded a month-long residency at the Bellagio Center in Italy. (NAME website)

The website for Sonia Nieto is:



Christine E. Sleeter

is a Professor in the College of Professional Studies at California State University, Monterey Bay. She was a former classroom teacher in Seattle. She is incoming Vice President of Division K of the American Educational Research Association (2004-2006), and was General Program Chair of the 1998 AERA Annual Meeting. She was President of the Sociology of Education Association (2001-2003).

Dr. Sleeter has received several awards for her work including the California State University Monterey Bay President’s Medal (2003), the National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME) Research Award (1994), and the AERA Committee on the Role and Status of Minorities in Education Distinguished Scholar Award (1995).


Some of her recent publications include Sleeter, C. E. (2004). Context-conscious portraits and context-blind policy. Anthropology & Education Quarterly. 35(1): 132-136; Sleeter, C. E. (2003) Teaching globalization. Multicultural Perspectives 5(2): 3-9; Sleeter, C. E. (2003) Reform and control: An analysis of SB 2042. Teacher Education Quarterly, 20 (1): 19-30; Sleeter, C. E. (2002) State curriculum standards and the shaping of student consciousness. Social Justice 29 (4): 8-25; Sleeter, C. E. (2001) Culture, Difference and Power (Teachers College Press); and Turning on Learning and Making Choices for Multicultural Education, both with Carl Grant (Wiley, 2003).(NAME website)

The website for Christine E. Sleeter is



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