According to a recent article, Violence Against Students In Class? Teachers Say It Doesn’t Add Up, a prominent union leader indicates that the major cause for violence in the classroom is associated with the parents. The article was printed as a result of a South Carolina incident between a White security officer and a Black female teenager. The video of the violence in the classroom went viral on Youtube showing the officer using unnecessary force which resulted in injury for the teenager.

In the article teachers are invited to respond to how the incident should have been handled. The president of the California Federation of Teachers, Joshua Pechthalt, said that this type of “disruptive behavior was often a sign of problems at home”. The statement by Pechthalt implies an association between disruptive behavior and the lack of parenting skills. When in fact, it these types of incidents that force Black parents to continue to teach their children basic survival skills that will thwart incidents associated with violence in the classroom.

Black parents prepare their children to live in a dual cultural world that involves helping them to develop skills for adult roles such as wage earners and parenthood in addition to negotiating a dominant society that has different cultural values and judges people by their skin color or ethnic background. Black parents are forced to teacher their children to approach people with caution, wariness, and a sense of distrust due to living in an urban society and a society that dislikes them for the color of their skin.

Why did the California Teacher Union president blame Black parents for violence in the classroom which resulted in the South Carolina racism incident?

When their is a conflict in the classroom between a teacher and a student someone has to get the blame. Blame is a characteristic associated with a dysfunctional organization.

There are five different levels that contribute to a dysfunctional organization. The foundation for the dysfunctional organization begins with each person’s use of defense mechanisms for coping. Defense mechanisms are the unwritten rules an individual learns and utilizes to effectively deal with circumstances that are upsetting, embarrassing, or threatening.

The second level is skilled incompetence, which is the outcome of the defense mechanisms we have internalized. When the defensive behaviors we’ve learned are transformed into a learned behavior, that behavior becomes a skill – albeit an incompetent skill – that we consider necessary in order to deal with issues that are embarrassing, threatening, or upsetting. A skill that is learned from the regular application of a defense mechanism has a high degree of incompetence embedded within it, because we are unaware of how this skill will impact our future.

Skilled incompetence transforms into a defensive routine. Defensive routines are the third level. When the skilled incompetence is automatically exhibited at all times, the behavior is now a defensive routine.

Defensive routines lead to fancy footwork. Fancy footwork is the fourth level. Fancy footwork happens when individuals try to deny the behavioral inconsistencies they exhibit, or else they place blame on other people, which results in distancing themselves from taking responsibility for their behavioral inconsistencies.

Fancy footwork leads to organizational malaise. Organizational malaise is the final level. During this phase the individuals in the organization will seek to find fault within the organization rather than accept responsibility for their actions and correct their behavior accordingly. The individual continues the process by accentuating the negative and deemphasizing the positive in an effort to cover up their actions. The organizational malaise is further exacerbated by a refusal of one or all the members to discuss their area of responsibility.

Instead of blaming Black parents for violence in the classroom, the California Teachers Union president should focus on solving the problem so that the teachers that they represent can be more productive and happier with their jobs.

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Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.

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