While it is an American belief that all people are made inherently equal in worth and potential, many teachers continue to demean and underestimate students of color in the classroom.
Some naively think that a “color blind” approach would resolve such issues. However, if educators were to acknowledge and take advantage of the diversity offered in classrooms instead of neglecting it, there might be a more positive change in school districts.
Last month, a white high school teacher in Texas was arrested after a video showed her hitting a black student as she called him an idiot and accused him of preventing another student from graduating. Several similar incidents have occurred over the years.
These teachers have misused their authority as leaders and educators in the classroom. An intolerant mindset burdens the ability of those whose responsibility it is to teach and encourage young people.
This bias toward students of color is a reflection of stereotypes presented in the media. Summarizing an entire group of people into acting and thinking a certain way has always caused ignorance and offense.
If curriculums incorporated accurate representations of various cultures throughout history, there would be less room for preconceived ideas and stereotypes to overshadow truth.
“Some believe that the curriculum, through its texts, ought to describe the ways different cultural groups have contributed to western civilization to eliminate racism,” wrote Richard Morgan on EdChange.
John Hopkins University recently published a study stating that white teachers are 30 percent less likely than black teachers to think a black student will graduate college. White teachers are also 40 percent less likely to expect a black student will graduate from high school.
“Our families have to figure out a way to advocate better for children, to really sort of transform the landscape,” said Charles McGee, co-founder of the Black Parent Initiative, in an interview with The Atlantic.
It must be taught in schools that ethnic or cultural backgrounds cannot define a person. It would be a false assumption to say that all white American teachers think black students have the same chance of success as other students, despite the values of a culture that advocates acceptance and equality.
No one is a perfect amalgamation of his or her ethnic or societal upbringing.
The “first to graduate in their family” cliché is not as relevant as it was at one point. Those who were the first to graduate in their families are having children of their own. Times are changing, and this progression should carry over to the classroom.
“All black and Latino college students aren’t necessarily the first person in their families to complete college. I am a fourth generation college graduate,” wrote Danielle Moss Lee, the Chief Executive Officer of the New York YWCA on Edutopia.
If public schools focused more primarily on education and inclusion, there would be a heightened concept of equality and belonging among the student body. Schools should encourage unity and growth, not division and digression.
To move forward, the public education system must put preconceptions of students in the past and begin educating about the cultures of the world in an honest and positive light.
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