While the fatal death of any teenager, such as Vonderrick Myers, is a tragedy, many Black students will return to school either doubtful about or angry with their teachers. Students will be doubtful because they may not longer trust in the American system. As they realize that the Black male may be a target of American society, they will respond negatively. The angry students will feel that their is no justice in America for Black children and believe the entire country is racist.
A recent study, Deadly Force in Black and White, revealed that Black male teenagers are 21 times more likely to be shot and killed by police than white males. Between 2010 and 2012, there were 1,217 deadly police shootings reported to the FBI. Black males between the ages of 15 and 19 were killed at a rate of 31.17 per million. White male teenagers between that ages of 15 and 19 were killed at a rate of 1.47 deaths per million.
Since the media has reported many of the shootings, Black students may feel that the Vonderrick Myers death is unjustified like the others. Other students will take the side of the police. This clash of opinions is going to result in fights and bullying between the students. The students who feel that the teenagers death is unjustified will believe that their bullying is justified.
Parents who believe that the shooting is unjustified will exhibit little faith in the school that they attend. They will not encourage their child to do well in your school which will ultimately impact standardized test scores. Parents who believe that the shooting is justified will convey that message that school is important and their child will feel comfortable with voicing their opposing opinion.
White teachers who desire to reduce racial tensions in their classroom must remove themselves from an object of perceived oppression to individuals who care about the health and well being of their students. Many Black students will view their teachers in the same way that they view White cops. The Black students will become objectionable and if there are enough Black students who believe the teacher and school is racist against Black students, it will completely disruption the culture for the school.
Schools impacted by teenage shooting such as Vonderrick Myers, will find a reduction in standardized achievement and increase student disciplinary consequences for years to come. It will look as though the teachers are ineffective resulting in additional efforts to blame teachers for ineffective instruction. At that point it does not matter what the teacher does, because of the classroom racial tension, the education of many children will be lost.
In regards to disciplinary infractions, Black students will believe that the reporting of disciplinary challenges to administration is the equivalent of the White teachers as a snitch. In the Black and Hispanic community, a snitch is one of the lowest forms of life.
When we lose the educational effectiveness for a cohort of students, whether they are Black or not, we create an income inequality gap which has been deemed as detrimental to the future economy of the United States.
Educators must understand that it looks like it a no win for the Black community for many blacks. Many Black children will come into the classroom with racist attitudes that is going to fuel the already unintentional racial tension between White teachers and Black students. The unfortunate death of Vonderrick Myers provides an opportunity for White teachers to bridge the racial gap between them and Black Students.
Teachers will begin this process by facilitating a lesson plan that focuses on teaching their students survival skills that will keep them from meeting the same end as Voenderrick Myers. When you introduce the lesson, explain to the students that you want to teach them how not to become a statistic like Vonderrick Myers. To ensure that you satisfy curriculum standards align them with the Language Arts standards. Math teachers can turn this lesson into a percentage, probability, or statistics lesson plan that couples along with the Language Arts standards. Most importantly, as you facilitate the lesson, refrain from voicing your opinion. What is most important is that the children have an opportunity to discuss the Vonderrick Myers shooting and see you as someone who continues to save their life through education.
Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012
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Author of Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships
“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