In a recent article, a New York City elementary school has decided to divide children into groups according to ethnicity as a strategy for eliminating racism in education. This tends to shift the blame from educators to children. The best strategy for eliminating racism in education is to transform the perception that students have regarding teacher intentions.
According to the article, the school sends parents a survey to evaluate the ethnicity of the children. Starting with third grade students are divided into groups according to ethnicity. During the segregated group sessions, teachers facilitate discussions regarding their racial indemnities and experiences.
The program presupposes that racism in education is only a product of student beliefs.
What are student beliefs that contribute to racism in education?
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 same experience of involuntary incorporation into the United States and then relegated to subordinate status. Americans of color adapt to a society that does not value their ethnicity, history, heritage, or language by establishing societal survival strategies.
With this in mind, 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. This historical perspective has a direct impact on students perceptions of teachers and contributes to racism in education.
Why is a program that blames children for racism in education ineffective?
Any training that is provided for children eventually leaves the school district and the investments of time and money is lost. For example, the prescribed program begins with third graders. Eventually, the third graders graduate from the school and the money spent to train the students is forever lost. We find this model in many programs.
Racism in education is a product of the clash between teachers and students from different races. Due to the power relationships between teachers and students, it is the racial values that teachers embrace and exhibit that will prevail. Therefore, the best way to eliminate racism in education is to provide training for teachers. This becomes a productive investment because the teachers are not only the mainstay of the school but they are on the front line too.
When you shift the perception that students have regarding teacher perceptions, teachers will develop positive classroom relationships with their students.
Why is it important to eliminate racism in education by developing positive racial teacher student classroom relationships?
Developing positive relationships with students provides benefits for schools, teachers, and students. Having positive and caring relationships in schools increases resilience and protects children from academic failure, mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, and destructive behavior and violence. Long-term teacher-student relationships results in increased teacher job satisfaction. Teachers who have positive feelings toward their students are more likely to have students reciprocate those positive. Students are more willing to develop positive relationships with teachers who tend to form close friendships with their students.
The best way to eliminate racism in education is to train teachers to promote positive racial teacher student classroom relationships . Eliminating racism in education using this process in will permanently shift the culture of the school.
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