In a recent article, a local parent group alleges that Upper Dublin School District officials have racially discriminated against Black students. The claim has become an official investigation from the United States Department of Education Office of Civil Rights. Upper Dublin Schools can only overcome the atrocities associated with racial discrimination by promoting positive racial teacher student classroom relationships.

According to the article, Parents Accuse Upper Dublin School District of racial discrimination, the Concerned African American Parents (CAAP) filed a racial discrimination lawsuit that results from excessive suspension rates for Black students. According to the racial discrimination complaint, only 7.3% of students in the Upper Dublin School District were Black, however they represent almost 45% of the out-of-school suspensions during the 2014-2015 school year. The suspension rate for Black students followed a similar pattern for the previous years. The suspension rate for 2013-2014 and 2012-2013 were 48% and 63% respectively.

What challenges can Upper Dublin School District Black students encounter that leads to racial discrimination? 

One challenge that can lead to racial discrimination is the racial differences between teachers and students. Teacher-student conflicts result from a difference in desires, and even though this difference may be reduced, it remains in schools.

Racial background influences the attitudes, beliefs, and values about education, ideas about how classes ought to be conducted, how students and teachers should interact as well as the types of relationships are appropriate for the classroom. The classroom conflict between teachers and students results from the different cultural contexts that students and teachers bring to the classroom.

Black student beliefs can also contribute to racial discrimination. Some Blacks believe they cannot trust White institutions. Adolescents may develop oppositional social identities that are contrary to the social expectations of mainstream society when they experience racism and respond with anger and rebellion.

Many Black students are convinced that White teachers are racist and prejudiced and reject White teachers’ authority due to their experience with racism. Black students who reach school can develop a sharp distinction between acting Black and acting White.

Black students frequently find themselves in classrooms where their culture, racial, and linguistic identities are under constant attack that manifests as a multitude of disciplinary actions, suspensions, and expulsions. Therefore Black students are more likely to encounter  behavior that impedes their progress when compared to White students.

Cultural racism results from the dominant or more powerful group defining cultural values and value characteristics. When the more powerful group, such as teachers, define the cultural values, the Black student develop certain perceptions.

What perceptions do Black students develop that can augment racial discrimination in Upper Dublin School District?

When incorporating students into a marginalized society by slavery, conquest, and colonization, students believe school is detrimental to their identity. Indians, Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Blacks share the similar experience of having been brought into the United States against their will and then relegated to subordinate status. The major reason that previous attempts at educational reform for Blacks have been unsuccessful is that the relationships between teachers and students and between schools and communities remain similar to the relationships developed in the 1950’s.

This has caused Black parents to teach their children necessary survival skills. 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. Blacks who live in an urban society and a society that dislikes them for the color of their skin ensure they do not become victims by approaching people with caution, wariness, and a sense of distrust.

Due to the dynamics associated with the perception of racism in the Upper Dublin School District, promoting positive racial teacher student classroom relationships will benefit the entire community.

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Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.

www.positiveracialrelationships.com

PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012

 

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Author of Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships and Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships: Methodology

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