The continuing expansion of the student achievement gap is a public embarrassment for educational institutions that claim to champion the best interest of all students. Schools continue to spend millions to eliminate the gap with very little sustained progress. It is a wonder while many Black students choose to defy a school and its employees when there is little hope that their efforts are authentic. School districts will benefit from a process that evaluates the systemic causes that are specific to each school rather than whole school district reform student achievement gap initiatives that assumes all Black students are the same.
The evaluation of individual schools is necessary due to the characteristics of a dysfunctional organization. There are five levels associated within a dysfunctional organization. At the infancy stage, teachers will protect themselves from circumstances and situations that make them feel threatened, embarrassed, or upset. In response to these circumstances and situations, teachers develop unwritten rules to ensure that they are not threatened, embarrassed, or upset.
Many of these rules are embedded in school discipline policies because those rules are subjective rather than objective. The primary areas of subjectivity are classroom disruptions, disrespect towards a teacher, and open defiance. For example, a classroom disruption is an interruption of the instructional process in the classroom where the teacher determines what acts constitute an interruption. Some Black students will interrupt the class by talking to their neighbors and speak without raising their hands. Teachers will use this infraction as an opportunity to exercise their authority.
Teachers respond to students talking in the classroom without permission by ordering or reprimanding the Black student. When a teacher yells, uses harsh words, shames, degrades, or embarrasses a student, such behavior influences all students. On the one hand, it shows White students that they are privileged. Teachers assume quiet students are successful and will provide rewards for making teaching an easier task. One the other hand, it creates a chasm between that teacher and the Black student. Eventually the word will get out regarding the teacher and all Black students will perceive that the White teacher is racist.
Once this happens, it becomes difficult for Black students to trust and learn from this teacher, even though the implications of racism maybe minimal which results in continuing to expand the student achievement gap. As the teacher continues to delve out disciple, school administrators will support the efforts of this teacher resulting in institutionalized racism. Therefore, Black students will continue to believe that school is detrimental to their identity which will continue to increase the student achievement gap.
Improving school for Black students includes establishing a functional partnership between Black students and White teachers. Many schools chose to allow students to participate in activities that are outside of the classroom hoping to provide them with a platform to voice their concerns. Schools resort to this strategy because it appears to work well for White students. It is well known that Instructional materials and instructors who work well for European dissent students do not necessarily work well for culturally diverse students, and to believe that they do is to assume Black, Latino, American Indian, Asian, Arab and African immigrants, and European-origin students have identical personal, social, cultural, historical, and family traits resulting in total disrespect for culturally diverse students and their community.
The major reason that previous attempts at educational reform have been unsuccessful is that the relationships between White teachers and Black students have remained essentially unchanged. The ending result is that the teacher maintains the power over relationship in the classroom. Without transforming these relationships, schools and the communities that they serve can be assured that the student achievement gap will continue to expand for the next 50 years without an initiative that promotes positive racial teacher student classroom relationships.
All the best,
L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 4707 Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
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did his part and now all we have to do is run with it.”
~ Tom Coleman ~
Woodstown-Pilesgrove Public Schools Superintendent of Schools
“The model that you use to analyze teacher-student relationships is a good one for most school districts”.
~ Joe Vas ~ Perth Amboy Mayor
“Dr. Campbell’s Cultural Relationship Training Program is comprehensive, informative, and should be required training for all schools”
~ Darrell Pope ~ Hutchinson Kansas NAACP President