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Comfort Level, Maximum in Ethnically Diverse Schools

social and psychological experiences at school, they do better academically,' Nishina said.

Citing a recent Supreme Court decision on ethnic diversity on college campuses, another co author, Sandra Graham, principal investigator of the current project, professor and chair of the UCLA Department of Education, underscored the role of ethnic diversity on college campuses as a way to promote better learning.

'The skills needed for young people to successfully negotiate today's increasingly global economy can best be developed through exposure to very diverse people, cultures, and points of view,' Graham said. 'Diversity benefits everyone; in fact, it is critical in contemporary America and especially in states like California, where the population is changing dramatically.'

The research is published in the May issue of the journal Psychological Science, and is funded federally by the National Science Foundation and privately by the William T. Grant Foundation. Graham and colleagues are in the sixth year of their long-term school bullying study of more than 1,900 sixth graders, and their teachers, in 11 Los Angeles-area public middle schools with predominantly minority and low-income students; the new research is part of this long-term project. Nishina conducted bullying research as a postdoctoral scholar at UCLA.

A 'balance of power' among ethic groups may be the reason that students in ethnically diverse schools feel safer and less vulnerable, the authors say. When ethnic groups are fairly equally represented, bullying and harassment may decrease, they hypothesize. In addition, an ethnic balance of power may have other benefits, including opportunities for cross-ethnic friendships, the researchers noted. More than 50 years after the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education, most students in the United States continue to be educated largely in ethnically segregated schools, the authors noted.

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