With the ensuing verdict of the Ferguson Grand Jury Decision Teachers will need to develop strategies for dealing with Black student opposition. As former math teacher, the first thing that you must know is that you have a prime opportunity to enhance the classroom relationship between you and your Black students.
If Darren Wilson is indicted, Black students will feel that they have been long targets of unjustified discrimination. If Darren Wilson is not indicted they will believe that there exist a continued unjustified system of racism in the educational system. Many of the Black students are going to equate the legitimized powers that you posses in the classroom as the same power that lead to the Michael Brown shooting.
Before, I delve into how to overcome Black student opposition, we must understand the various reasons that Black students develop opposition towards White teachers.
The first source of Black student opposition is the family. Many Black parents are the product of the U.S. Educational System. Many Black parents are either relegated to the permanent underclass, work jobs that they are over qualified for, or are supervised by under qualified individuals from other ethnicities. Many of these parents have great difficulty in promoting an educational system that has failed them because of racism.
Black students eventually become aware of the devastation that the educational system has placed on their family. The see, feel, and know the devastation. When this reality sets in so does the opposition.
Many people believe that the racism is unjustified. We need only to review the statistics regarding the Raccelerate Phenomenon. The Raccelerate Phenomenon is consistent with Newton’s Third Law of Motion which states that for every action the is an equal and opposite reaction. According to the Raccelerate Phenomenon, for every action that a Black male takes against a White female the and an excessive and negative reaction towards the Black male.
This is the major reason that we have the school to prison pipeline. According to the school to prison pipeline, students are pushed out of school and into the prison system.
- 40% of the students expelled from school are Black
- 70% of students who are arrested in school or referred to law enforcement are Black
- Black students are 3 1/2 times more likely to be suspended from school when compared to White students
- Black and Hispanic students are twice as likely not to graduate from high school when compared to White students
- 68% of all males in prison do not have a high school diploma
Black students respond in opposition to an educational system that continues to deny and disrespect their culture. While schools and proponents cited various reasons for school uniforms, they effectively rejected the Black student culture while school uniform companies have made millions. In the process, not wearing a school uniform became punishable which often resulted in a disciplinary consequence. When Black students continued to transform their culture by sagging, once again the opposition to the Black student culture surfaced. Now that we have a better understanding of why Black students develop opposition to schools, I will discuss how to overcome Black student opposition. The main idea revolves around developing a classroom culture of success. You can develop a classroom of success by utilizing the following:
1. Win the Black Parent
- Develop a grading system where students can fail each test and still pass your class with a ‘C’. I don’t know how many times that I was confronted by an angry Black parent about their Childs grade. Once I explained that a student could get a ‘C’ by just taking notes in class and doing all of the homework, it was the student who was chastised instead of the Black parent elevating their concerns to the principal, superintendent, or school board. This works because if a child does all of the homework and takes notes in class it is almost impossible for them to fail the tests.
- Use Academic Detention. Instead of always complaining to parents about the students behaviors, complain about their progress in your class. If a student is a disciplinary challenge, they are more than likely an academic challenge too. I would call the parent and tell them about the disciplinary challenge and then I would talk about their grades. I would tell the parent that once a week that I hold after-school academic detention and needed their child to attend. Effectively I was providing a disciplinary consequence and providing an opportunity to advance academically in the class.
2. Win the Black Students
- Testing and Tutoring During Academic Attention. Earlier I described Academic Detention. During the academic detention, I would tutor the students. After tutoring them I would allow them to take a make-up test. This went a long way in class because they always knew that they had an opportunity to pass my class.
- Provide the class with rewards. For my ninth grade class, the deal that I made with them was that if we can do five days of work in four days I would allow them to play chess on Friday’s. This made them monitor each other during the week because they wanted that day off. On the day off, I taught them to play chess as a way of teaching critical thinking skills (Works very well for double period classes).
- Allow students to establish the rules and consequences. When you allow students to set the rules and consequences you empower them in your classroom.
- Learn their verbal and nonverbal tendencies. When you learn the verbal and nonverbal tendencies of Black students you will also learn when they are disrespecting you and when they are respecting you. This will reduce Black student opposition in your class as well as racial tension in your classroom.