On Wednesday, April 30th, the staff of the Religion and Diversity Education program at Tanenbaum attended a conference entitled “Muslim Youth in NYC Public Schools” at Teachers College here in Manhattan. The conference was presented by Dr. Louis Cristillo, a Research Assistant Professor of Education at TC, as a launch for the preliminary results of his soon-to-be-released full study on Muslim youth in public schools in New York City.
The day-long event was broken into two halves- a morning of research presentations, and an afternoon of break-out sessions, giving the audience a chance to make sense of the research. The break-out sessions gave the audience members the rare chance to apply what we learned from the study to our own contexts, and provided a space for sharing insights and making connections.
One of the most important reminders offered by the conference was that of the very real toll 9/11 has taken on individuals, communities, our city and our nation. In the wake of 9/11, the media’s portrayal of Islam and Muslims has become more lively and focused than it has been in the recent past. Cristillo’s study shows that Muslim youth in New York City have felt that focus bear down on them as well. According to Cristillo, only 4% of New York City’s Muslim youth are in private religious schools, with the remaining 96% of the population attending public schools. His research shows that 1 in 10 students in NYC public schools are Muslim, and that the students in his study experienced significant changes in their lives after the tragedy of September 11th. Now, seven years later, he seeks to find ways that educators and the public school system can learn to better serve Muslim youth and to recognize the diversity of opinion and experience among them.
The Religion and Diversity Education program here at Tanenbaum foregrounds the importance of understanding the needs of students from all backgrounds, and we offer links here to Cristillo’s work, as well as that of Dr. Michelle Fine of CUNY Graduate Center and Dr. Selcuk Sirin of NYU as resources for educators who would like more information about this often-overlooked student population. We’d love to hear your responses to the work, and ways that you will use it to inform your practice!
- Dr. Cristillo’s study- “Religiosity, Education and Civic Belonging: Muslim Youth in New York City Public Schools“
- Dr. Michelle Fine’s homepage
- Dr. Selcuk Sirin’s publications page (features a number of PDFs)