Systemic racism in the education system – Observatory

On May 25, in Minneapolis, USA, George Floyd died at the hands of a white policeman, which sparked protests around the world against racism in a movement called Black Lives Matter.

Although this movement has been around since 2013, it has gained new momentum due to recent events, showing the strength of racism that still exists in the police system, government and society.

Schools are among the most essential areas for tackling racism in society, since schools can perpetuate racial inequalities, so it is important to train educators on how to deal with this problem in the classroom.

Coincidentally, a month before the murder, the American Educational Research Association (AERA) conducted an investigation to examine the racial biases of teachers. As the survey explains, schools are places where equality should be promoted and taught to students, but this is not always the case. Thus, the Association sought to determine whether educators have less explicit and implicit pro-white biases than the non-teaching community. The survey included the participation of 1.6 million people, including 68,930 teachers.

Jordan Starck, the author of the study, explains that schools are a “microcosm of society”, so racism can affect things such as hiring teachers and mixing in schools among students from different backgrounds. ethnicities.

AERA conducted a speed and accuracy test where participants separated white-skinned people with positive words and dark-skinned people with negative words. 77% of educators were found to have an implicit bias, while 77.1% of white respondents had this bias. Subsequently, the researchers found that 30.3% of teachers have an explicit bias compared to 30.4% of professionals who are not educators.

Having these racial prejudices in schools influences students’ experience in their learning process, the quality of the education they receive, and the way teachers deal with it in the classroom.

Previous studies have shown that students facing racial prejudice were not only less likely to be placed in advanced or gifted classes but, on the contrary, they were the ones who received the most detentions and punishments, especially when their teachers were white person.

“Levels of teacher bias correlate with student achievement; the more biased teachers, the worse the learning outcomes for students, ”said Starck. “Teachers perceive, assess and treat students differently based on their ethnicity, and prejudice plays a central role in these disparities.”

Furthermore, Starck stresses that having “good intentions” is not enough and that it is not his intention that teachers feel guilty. Yet such studies are needed to highlight the need for other resources and support to deal with racial prejudice.

Stark calls on principals and school principals to support the professional development of teachers to combat their prejudices and prevent them from affecting their students. Many school districts have initiated actions in this direction by offering training to teachers so that they are more aware of their implicit and explicit prejudices and learn to change them. Experts explained that this type of personal development and professional training where teachers are invited to examine themselves and take action is not traditionally done.

There is also a need to facilitate conversations about this introspection and how racism manifests itself in the policies and processes of the institution. In addition, students should be analyzed and questions asked: what are their grades? Do they attend classes? How is their self-discipline? Do they often stay out of school? Are there differences based on ethnicity and gender?

On the other hand, Forbes Magazine believes that the best way to eradicate racism is to change education, starting with including people from different ethnicities in history books. Also, add the discussion of slavery to the curricula and change the names of schools that have historical figures who traded in slaves or had racist backgrounds.

Additionally, some studies show that teachers consistently screen black students out from other ethnic groups. They are over-represented in “reform” student schools, where they are excluded from mainstream institutions and are exposed to drugs and drug traffickers.

They are also discriminated against because of their hair and may have fewer opportunities to enter and complete higher education. This results in a gap in opportunities between blacks compared to whites and other ethnicities, alienating them and limiting their opportunities for professional growth.

While there is no easy way to eliminate systemic racism in the education sector, as in AERA research, Forbes recommends educating teachers about their biases first. It is also important to hire more black teachers to give them more representation; include more books by authors of different ethnicities to tell stories led by diverse protagonists; and seek positive actions in higher education that attract more students of all ethnicities.

The involvement of government, school leaders, teachers and the education community is also necessary to bring about real change. As Jordan Starck said, “There is a need to advocate for broader social changes, or the same types of prejudices will be perpetuated. “

Janice G. Ball