In a recent incident, a Texas school teacher used Facebook as a vehicle to express racist remarks. The teacher has been subsequently fired for the incident. Racist remarks towards children have an impact that is consistency with inappropriate criticism.

According to the article, after elementary school teacher, Karen Fitzgibbons, saw a Youtube video of a White police officer dragging a bikini wearing 14 year old teenage to the ground.  Shortly thereafter, Fitzgibbons expressed a racist remark on Facebook regarding the incident.

Fitzgibbons, who is White, wrote: I am going to just go ahead and say it … the blacks are the ones causing the problems and this ‘racial tension’. I guess that’s what happens when you flunk out of school and have no education.

Fitzgibbons also wrote: “I am almost to the point of wanting them all segregated on one side of town so they can hurt each other and leave the innocent people alone.. Maybe the 50s and 60s were really on to something. Now let the bashing of my true and honest opinion begin…GO! #imnoracist #imsickofthencausingtrouble…”

Do teachers discriminate against Black students?

Teachers discriminate against students by stereotyping according to ethnicity. In one study, White females enrolled in a child development course for perspective elementary teachers who taught a lesson to a group of seventh and eighth grade students:

  • Gave less attention to Blacks
  • Ignored most of the statements made by Black students
  • Praised Black students less
  • Criticized Black students more

White teachers may have difficulty in understanding minorities due to the teachers’ rejection of the students’ lifestyles which may lead to them using racist remarks.

Teachers are more likely to have negative academic and behavioral expectations regarding Black students compared to expectations of White students. White teachers rate Black male children more deviant when compared to White children. White teachers direct more criticism toward Black males and rate Black male children personalities more negatively when compared to White male children. White teachers perceive White students more positively when compared to Black students. High prejudiced White teachers are less pleased with Black students when compared to low prejudiced White teachers.

How do Blacks perceive racist remarks?

Blacks learn at an early age to be wary of people and systems in their environment. Some social scientists agree that children can learn social, racial, and religious prejudices by observing, and being influenced by patterns in the culture in which they live. Black students who develop oppositional social identities that involve developing distrust for Whites and dislikes for behaviors associated with being White may resist academic achievement because it is associated with White culture. The collision of the school culture and the Black culture regarding procedures that involve teaching and learning can have a devastating impact on both teachers’ and students’ academic efforts and achievements. Black youth perceive the opportunity structure differently than Whites and consequently put less effort and commitment into their schoolwork. Schools can work effectively with culturally diverse students by having:

  • An ethnic and multicultural curriculum
  • Teacher training in a multicultural curriculum
  • Strong instructional leadership
  • High expectations for all students
  • Safe, orderly, warm, concerning, appreciative student learning environment
  • Continuously monitoring of student progress
  • Clear and balanced goals
  • High teacher and student morals
  • Respect for individual differences which does not result in the usage of racial remarks

What impact does sarcasm like a racist remark have on students?

Sarcasm can damage teacher-student relationships. Many teachers and children agree that sarcastic messages like racial remarks are negative. Even though some educators believe that sarcasm and ridicule may serve as a corrective function, the long-term consequence for students is diminished esteem which may make the immediate gains in terms of behavioral correction not worth the costs. Interviews with high school students removed for behavioral challenges indicate antagonistic and humiliating teacher behaviors include sarcastic responses. Teachers believe students have greater understanding of vocal contradictions and sarcasm as grade level increases. Older children are better at decoding discrepant nonverbal cues when they are attached to sarcastic messages. Criticism like a racist remark decreases student academic performance.

​Teacher sarcasm such as a racist remark can devastate the positive teacher-student classroom relationship.

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Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.

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2 thoughts on “Should teachers get fired for racist remarks?”

  1. What if this problem had been solved, rather than moved? Solving a problem requires determining the root cause. What has caused the teacher to feel the way that she does? What could have been done to help the teacher think differently? What did firing the teacher accomplish, in reality?

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