In a recent incident, an off duty White St. Louis police officer has shot fatally shot Black teenager Vonderrick Myers, Jr.. News reports that the officer returned gunfire after the teenager fired first. This fatal shooting has had the same impact on the community as did the Ferguson Michael Brown shooting.
The local St. Louis community has responded by demonstrating against the shooting, demanding demilitarization of the police force, damaging police cars, and demanding justice for the teen. The parents claim innocence of the teen by emphasizing that their son was carrying a sandwich instead of the alleged gun. Black parents and children probably feel that the Voderrit Myers shooting incident validates that the police have a vision for exterminating all Black male children.
This incident will have a tremendous impact on the St. Louis School District which has predominately Black children. The school district will follow the same protocol as did the Ferguson School District by providing additional counseling services for students who feel depressed about the Vonderrick Myers shooting. This strategy will have minimal impact because it will not reduce the escalating racial tensions in the school and classrooms.
Racial tensions will escalate because many Black students will see their White teachers the same way as they see the White police officer who shot the teenager. Discipline problems between teachers and students will increase. Students who express an agreement with the shooting will find themselves at odds with other students which will lead to school fights and bullying.
The St. Louis School District must take the appropriate steps before the after effects of the Voderrit Myers shooting gets out of hand. The first step that the district must take is to have teachers develop a lesson plan regarding the shooting. The focus of the lesson plan is to teach their students how to avoid the same circumstance that happened to Myers from happening to them. This will remove the possibility that White teachers are racist against Black students because the White teacher is teaching them how to survive. The most important portion of the lesson is that the teacher does not convey to the students their personal opinion about the incident.
Then next for the St. Louis District is to publicly announce that they are implementing an initiative that promotes positive racial teacher student classroom relationships (). Many other school districts have chosen to implement diversity training for teachers which has proven to be irrelevant to Black parents. This type of announcement will convey to the community that the school district is there for the community. The announcement will reduce any racial tension that parents and students feel exist in the school district that may have erupted after the Voderrick Myers shooting.
Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012
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Author of Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships
“The model that you use to analyze teacher-student relationships is a good one for most school districts”. ~ Joe Vas ~ Perth Amboy Mayor
“Dr. Campbell’s Cultural Relationship Training Program is comprehensive, informative, and should be required training for all schools” ~ Darrell Pope ~ Hutchinson Kansas NAACP President