This chapter discusses the two foundational beliefs regarding the effective teaching of students from culturally diverse backgrounds are important to discuss: assimilation and cultural pluralism. Assimilationist practices in education are defined by two primary principles: absolute democracy and naive egalitarianism. The absolute democracy paradigm is defined as the belief that good teaching is what determines effectiveness in the classroom. Culturally responsive music education offers a place for a paradigm shift within United States music classrooms. Cultural pluralism is the belief that diversity strengthens society and that diverse cultures should be treated equally and represents an ideological move away from the concept of assimilation. The term culture can be difficult to parse in relation to issues of education, music, and democracy and needs to be properly situated. Public schools are designed with primary purpose of educating all citizens so that they could function as full participating members of one's democratic society regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, native language, or immigration status.