In a recent article, researchers report that racism creates hormones in students which is counterproductive to their academic success and is the primary contributor to racism in schools. Once again researchers have placed the blame on Black parents instead of focusing on the most important factor that contributes to the success of historically underserved students. Teachers are the central force that primarily contributes to the success of historically underserved students and have the best chance to eliminate racism in schools.

According to the article Racism Got You Stressed? That May Be Holding Kids Back at School, Too., stress related to racial conflict generates hormones in Black and Hispanic children that contributes to the long standing school achievement disparities. According to the article, “the new Northwestern paper, a review of a trove of psychological research published in the September issue of American Psychologist, seeks to widen the scope of the achievement-gap discussion. It argues that racism’s direct effects on young people are in fact partially responsible for such disparities—not the material realities of discrimination, but the physical and emotional experience of racism itself. The authors cite previous research showing that when children confront the threat of being negatively stereotyped or suffering discrimination because of their race, they experience changes in levels of the stress hormone cortisol and also suffer from poorer quality and quantity of sleep.”

One of the solutions provided is problematic for helping students to have academic success in schools. The researchers suggest that the challenge with the academic success of historically undeserved students lies with parenting skills of Black and Hispanics. The researchers report that “one coping mechanism could be getting parents and guardians to promote better sleep habits among children, including establishing a regular bed- and wake-time schedule, and engaging in calming comforting rituals at the end of the day like reading together.” Once again researchers have blamed the home environment without consideration of other prevailing factions that contribute and steer racism in schools. Since the researchers have chosen to blame parents, let’s take a look at why Black parents inadvertently contribute to racism in schools.

Why do Black parents contribute to racism in schools?

Since many Black parents have been victimized by the educational system they 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. This causes Black students to develop racism in schools perspectives.

What are some of the other factors that contribute to racism in schools?

Student perceptions and feelings regarding teachers and themselves influence student achievement. Students do better in school when they believe getting a good education will increase their chances for success. Students who perceive that teachers have favorable feelings toward them have higher achievement levels when teachers have positive views toward them. Schools also contribute to racism in schools that continues to impact student achievement for historically underserved students.

The cultural mismatch between students and school is the reason for student academic failure. The attempt at minority student Americanization that involves fixing culturally flawed children by changing their values and language has failed at increasing minority student achievement. The main reason for low minority student achievement in the United States is racism creates a poverty cycle that minority students are unable to break. Student academic achievement decreases when the difference between the student’s culture and the school culture increases and the classroom environment does not value the student’s home culture. When an educational cultural match is not possible, there must be at least respect and value of the culture that children bring with them.

Enhancing respect and value for the students cultures involves developing positive racial relationships which is the most important factor for eliminating racism in schools. Positive relationships at schools and in the classroom are the prerequisites for effective learning and behavior. Students and teachers who are warm, compassionate, and friendly toward one another in the classroom have the potential to improve instruction and learning.

Developing positive racial teacher student classroom relationships provides benefits for schools, teachers, and students. Having positive and caring relationships in schools increases resilience and protects children from academic failure, mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, and destructive behavior and violence. Long-term teacher-student relationships result in increased teacher job satisfaction. Teachers who develop positive and personal relationships with students may prevent psychological development problems in their students. Students are more willing to develop positive relationships with teachers who tend to form close friendships with their students. developing positive racial relationships between teachers and students is the key factor that will eliminate racism in schools.

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All the best,

 

Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
www.positiveracialrelationships.com
PO Box 4707 Cherry Hill, NJ 08034

 

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

The Raccelerate Phenomenon

Treasures of Hidden Racism in Education

 

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Woodstown-Pilesgrove Public Schools Superintendent of Schools

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