San Jose students seek diversity training for teachers to help raise test scores

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- More diversity training for teachers -- that's what a group of Latino students are seeking at a San Jose high school.

While praising their teachers, they think there might be a lack of sensitivity that's impacting their academic performance.

Flyers are being passed out by students at San Jose's Lincoln High School, alleging there is institutional racism. And, in their opinion, that's causing Latino students to underperform white students in English and math proficiency tests. Three-fourths of the student body is Latino.

"Our teachers are being able to connect with the white students more than they are with students of color, leading to this complete disparity between the teachers and the children's relationships and their grades as well," said student Mateo Jax Ruiz.

Mateo and members of the campaign team want diversity training for teachers. They've also turned to, where a petition has collected almost 500 signatures.

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Lincoln High School has a history of listening to students. After asking for more diversity in the school's lunch menu and for all-gender restrooms, they succeeded. This time, they're trying to address racism.

"They like don't want to be called racist, so they kind to try to ignore it altogether, avoid it," said Natalia Delgado, a junior at Lincoln High. "They claim like, oh, we treat everyone the same. We don't see color, but like that's the problem is they devalue our culture."

San Jose Unified School District's deputy superintendent is supportive of Mateo for speaking up. "We are a welcoming, opening school district, and you can see that this student feels comfortable sharing his perspective and story publicly, and that's what public education and democracy's all about," said Stephen McMahon.

San Jose Unified policy and state education regulations do call for diversity training. The issue is now a matter of discussion at Lincoln as a result of a project based learning exercise in a Latino literature class.

Mateo and his supporters say they're not going to back down. They believe so strongly in this issue that they intend to spend the summer collecting more petition signatures.
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