In a recent article, several Black parents have complained regarding DeSoto Public Schools perpetual tradition of classroom racism (Pertcrism). The Mississippi public school district cover’s up the racism by pre established school rules. DeSoto Public Schools can eliminate alleged classroom racism by altering the rules that govern reporting individual student discipline consequences.
According to the article, a fourth-grader suspended five times for “misbehavior.” A third grader removed from his classroom for eight days because he pushed a bathroom stall door and it fell off its hinge.
A middle school girl who was suspended so often her desperate mother sent her to live with relatives in another state; and a high school girls suspended for an entire week after a shouting match with another student.
The complaint filed with the Departments Education’s Office of Civil Rights, alleges Mississippi’s largest school district has violated the Civil Rights Act by discriminating “against Black students on the basis of race through its discipline policies and practices fostering a school-to-prison pipeline and fueling racial disparities.” It asks the federal government to force the district to revise a “code of conduct” that, it claims, allows for vague and uneven punishments.
Community members have encouraged the DeSoto Public Schools to modify the code of conduct. According to the article, they argue ambiguity in the code allows unfair punishment – an argument activists have made across the country. In Los Angeles, suspensions dropped 53 percent from 2011 – 12 to 2013 – 14 in part because of a ban for “willful defiance”.
Modifying the Desoto Public Schools code of conduct will have a minimal impact on the cultural mismatch between schools and Black students.
The Cultural Mismatch
The cultural mismatch between students and school is the reason for student academic failure. The attempt at minority student Americanization that involves fixing culturally flawed children by changing their values and language has failed at increasing minority student achievement. The main reason for low minority student achievement in the United States is racism creates a poverty cycle that minority students are unable to break. Student academic achievement decreases when the difference between the student’s culture and the school culture increases and the classroom environment does not value the student’s home culture.
Minority student academic failure resulted from the minorities’ economic and societal positions. Subjecting Blacks, Mexican Americans from the southwest region, and Native Americans to American assimilation by slavery, conquest, or colonization results in them taking an oppositional stance to institutions controlled by Whites, which has led to lower achievement and increased dropout rates. Indians, Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Blacks have received an education that ineffectively prepared them for social and technoeconomic positions in adult life and have faced the job ceiling challenge that reinforces their inferior education and lower school performance.
When incorporating students into a marginalized society by slavery, conquest, and colonization, students believe school is detrimental to their identity. Indians, Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Blacks share the experience of having been brought into the United States society against their own will and then relegated to subordinate status. Blacks, Mexicans, and Puerto Ricans are caste-like immigrants who were involuntarily incorporated into the United States. Involuntary minorities such as Blacks are not willing to perform well in school due to difficulty with crossing cultural lines. Blacks have learned since slavery that the way to get ahead even within the limited universe open to them, the status mobility system is not through merit and talent but through White patronage. Americans of color adapt to a society that does not value their ethnicity, history, heritage, or language by establishing societal survival strategies. Black parents prepare their children to live in a dual cultural world that involves helping them to develop skills for adult roles such as wage earners and parenthood in addition to negotiating a dominant society that has different cultural values and judges’ people by their skin color or ethnic background. Blacks who live in an urban society and a society that dislikes them for the color of their skin ensure they do not become victims by approaching people with caution, wariness, and a sense of distrust.
The DeSoto Public Schools and community must consider other factors that contribute to the perpetual tradition of classroom racism (Pertcrism).
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