Race Discrimination In Education: Tips For Teachers For Avoiding Prejudice

Law Articles

One of the first anti-discrimination laws in the United States was the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Because any violation of this law can result in civil action against your school and district, it's important that, as a teacher, you leave any preconceived notions at the door of your classroom and treat all your students equally. While most modern teachers would never dream of considering themselves to harbor prejudices against racial minorities, racial trouble still exists. According to one study, there are 149 suspensions for a group of 100 black students, while only 32 for the same amount of white students. Here are some areas where race still affects the classroom and what you can do to avoid it. 

1. Low expectations. 

Some teachers believe they are being fair or understanding by lowering their expectations for minority students. For example, teachers may not offer extra credit to black or hispanic students, or they may convey that they expect these students to perform poorly on tests. Teachers may offer less help or less vigorous assignments, ultimately lowering the quality of education that minority students receive.

As a teacher, you should offer the same opportunities for advancement to all students, and if minority students in poverty are not performing well, this doesn't mean that teachers should lower their expectations for minority students across the board, or even for the struggling student. White students are more likely to get the benefit of the doubt from teachers, and are allowed to excel despite setbacks at home. Strive to give all students the "benefit" treatment by offering alternative assignments and keeping your expectations for their success and excellence high. 

2. Making assumptions.

Hollywood and other media depictions of race can be damaging for educators. Even movies that show benevolent teachers getting into urban, low-income schools and lifting self-depreciating students out of poverty and into college can be damaging. Teachers in these situations should not see themselves as saviors who can help their students break the cycle of poverty. Making assumptions that all minority students in your class struggle financially and domestically leads to unequal treatment in the classroom. Other common assumptions include that all Black, Latino, or Asian students share a common culture or background. 

If you keep your mind open and build your classroom community by carefully getting to know the background of each student, you will discover that not all students come from broken homes; many have parents with good jobs and steady relationships. Many have family members who are college educated. Not all students will be familiar with street language, drugs, or gangs. It's also your job to help your diverse students understand their peers. Spend several weeks at the beginning of the school year on introductions, break the ice games, and team building exercises. Have students write essays on their favorite things or about their neighborhood. You'll get a better idea of the unique background of each student, regardless of race.

3. Harsher punishment.

Unfortunately, Black and Latino students still face harsher punishments more frequently in the classroom. These students are still viewed as trouble makers and teachers have a lower threshold for unacceptable behavior when it comes to these minority groups. You cannot let yourself become one of these people. The best way to avoid it is to have planned responses to misbehavior already in place. For example, talking out of turn may be a rule you wish to enforce. Before school begins, you will decide what the punishment for talking out of turn will be. It might be losing time at lunch or sitting alone during group work. Proactive planning helps you to avoid reactive punishment, promoting fairness in the classroom. 

For more information and help with understanding the boundaries and what you should be doing as a teacher, you may want to talk with a discrimination attorney


9 August 2016

Noni and the Accident

My name is Noni. When I was in college, I was hit by a car while crossing the street. My life was never in danger, but I did break a few bones and had a lot of huge medical bills. I was hoping I wouldn't have to get involved with an attorney, but unfortunately, it came down to that. I used a family friend who is an accident attorney to get some compensation. A few years later, I was hit while riding my bike and had to go through the same process. I suppose I'm lucky to be alive. And it's thanks to accident attorneys that I have been able to put my life back together. I started this blog as a way to let others know just how much lawyers can help you in certain situations.