Kentucky Student Voice Team Releases Report on Racial Diversity & Inclusion in School

Youth-led research expands upon 2022 ‘Race to Learn’ study that gathered over 10,000 Kentucky student survey responses.

Contact: Rachel Belin, Managing Partner, rachel@ksvt.org, (859) 396-6362‬

LEXINGTON, KY – The Kentucky Student Voice Team (KSVT), a statewide, youth-led nonprofit announced the release of its second report in a comprehensive research series titled Time to Talk: A Qualitative Study of Students’ Experiences with Race, Culture, and Ethnicities in their Classrooms.

The report is the result of 60 peer interviews led by KSVT student researchers and surfaces the classroom challenges faced by Kentucky students of racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds. It examines the current state of racial dynamics and school climate across Kentucky and provides recommendations for improvement. The report is a follow up to the team’s 2022 Race to Learn study, an analysis of responses from over 10,000 Kentucky middle and high school students.

Raima Dutt, KSVT research co-lead and senior at duPont Manual High School, said the team hopes the report will promote meaningful dialogue in school communities and at the state level to inform policy making and practice that allow for more inclusive educational spaces.

“Issues around race, ethnicity and learning are delicate and complex. It is critical that those with decision making power in our schools take the time to listen and empathize with the stakeholders their decisions most affect, and that undoubtedly includes students themselves,” says Dutt.
Key findings of the report include:
  • Kentucky students want to see cultural diversity and racial representation in their curriculum. They also desire to have authentic discussions of and engagement with that content with their peers and teachers.
  • Especially outside of the classroom, racial microaggressions exist in Kentucky schools. Students desire support in being allies with and for their peers of color.
  • Students recognize a racial mismatch between most Kentucky teachers and Kentucky students of color. At the same time, students are hopeful about their school’s ability to create more inclusive educational environments.

University of Kentucky Assistant Professor, Daniela Di Giacomo, Ph.D., served as the team’s research partner throughout the study and affirmed its unique added value.

“KSVT’s study demonstrates the promise of youth-led education action research to offer relevant, real-world solutions to seemingly intractable problems. Conversations around race and learning are plentiful in adult discourse right now, and they’re not always well informed. That young people like these student researchers are doing their homework to contribute to these difficult conversations in thoughtful ways shows older people what is possible in working through education issues together,” says Di Giacomo.

Based on their interviews, student researchers recommended that those wishing to support racially diverse students in school be more intentional about initiating discussion about diversity and difference in class and increase support, training, resources, and professional development for teachers and staff on issues of racial and cultural inclusion in the classroom and in the broader school community.

Minhal Nazeer, KSVT research co-lead and senior at Kentucky Country Day School, acknowledged that the report is meant to build on existing efforts.

“There already are many educators, administrators, families and policymakers in Kentucky who are unabashedly working toward creating more inclusive classrooms. This report is intended to serve as a resource to complement these ongoing efforts and spark constructive conversations,” says Nazeer.

Click here to access the full report and learn more about KSVT’s initiatives. 

KSVT’s full student research team includes leaders Raima Dutt, Minhal Nazeer and Daniela DiGiacomo of the University of Kentucky as well as contributors Esha Bajwa, Ava Benson, Connor Flick, Gunnar Goshorn, Carlie Hall, William Marcum, Liz Ortiz, Ramona Pierce, Kira Pusateri, Luisa Sanchez, Pragya Upreti, Aiden Vilo and Vivi Weaver.

About Kentucky Student Voice Team

The Kentucky Student Voice Team (KSVT) is an independent, statewide, 501(c)(3) organization co-founded in 2012 by a group of Kentucky high school students. As a collective of young people, KSVT is on a mission to co-create more just, democratic Kentucky schools and communities as education research, policy and storytelling partners. Follow the organization on social media at @kystuvoiceteam.

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