When you think of racism in our classrooms and schools, what immediately comes to your mind? Signs that say “Whites Only” or Confederate flags hoisted on flag poles?
Although these are pieces of evidence that racism does exist, racism isn’t as blatant as a physical sign that favors one race over another. In fact, racism is systemically embedded into our educational institution and can be camouflaged with other issues like socioeconomic status and even the learning loss from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Take, for example, the recent California Science Test (CAST) scores released in October 2022 that showed 29.45 percent of students met or exceeded the Science standards. When race is considered as a factor in how students scored, the CAST scores show that only 13.75 percent of Black or African American students met or exceeded the Science standards. With Black students not even scoring half of the overall percentage, we’ve just gotten a sign to ring the alarm on equity in science education. We are clearly not serving our Black students.
This thread of inequity continues through other groups of students such as English Language Learners and Students with Disabilities. The data shows over and over that we are missing the mark completely in our effort to build equitable, anti-racist classrooms.
As you consider your own role as a teacher in building a classroom that inspires belonging for every student, assess yourself on the following factors that can contribute to inequity and turn your classroom from a healthy one into a toxic one.
Implicit bias is the bias that is carried either unconsciously or unintentionally and can affect our judgments, decisions, and behaviors. The truth is, we all carry some sort of bias. This can be seen in the enrollment of students of color in honors and advanced classes based solely on teacher recommendation. It can also play a role in how we discipline students and who we suspend. For example, known as the Black Escalation, teachers have been shown to severely discipline Black students versus white students. Implicit bias can also be seen in the overrepresentation of students of color in special education vs. underrepresented students in gifted and talented education.
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