In a recent article, an author, surmises that institutionalized racism is the product of standardized assessment expectations. The purpose of standardized testing is to monitor student advancement to better inform educators. Institutionalized racism is the product of racial expectations and not expectations according to class as outlined by the author.

According to the article, The Institutionalized Racism Behind Getting to Proficient, affluent schools excel on standardized testing due to higher expectations. In an affluent school district the expectation is for students to attain an advanced proficient status. It is not the same for many urban schools. In an urban school the academic highlight is associated with the majority of their students attaining proficient. This author has made a gracious error because Institutionalized racism is not a product of classism but a product of racism.

What is institutionalized racism?

Institutional racism is any system of inequality based on race. It can occur in institutions such as public government bodies, private business corporations, and universities. The term was introduced by Black Power activists Stokely Carmichael and Charles V. Hamilton in the late 1960s. The definition given by William Macpherson within the report looking into the death of Stephen Lawrence was “the collective failure of an organization to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture, or ethnic origin“.

How does institutionalized racism continue to remain problematic?

Institutionalized racism is perpetrated through the educational system. Every person whether Black, White, economically deprived, wealthy, or in between must transverse through some portion of the educational system.

Schools continue to fuel institutionalized racism for historically underserved students such as Blacks and Hispanics. The result is teacher-student conflicts that are derived from a difference in desires, and even though this difference may be reduced, it remains in schools.

An individuals cultural background affects attitudes, beliefs, and values about education, about how classes should to be conducted, about how students and teachers should interact, and what types of relationships are appropriate for students and teachers.

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. Black and Hispanic students are more likely to encounter teacher behavior that impedes their progress when compared to White students.

Schools encompass cultural expectations that present challenges for Black students. Schools and Black student conflict result from expectation differences. Teachers who are culturally different from their students have a greater challenge creating a trusting environment when cultural diversity and race factors are not put on the table by the school and students perceive these factors as important to their identity and school success. School leaders must stop operating on the assumption that all the reasons for Black children’s problems and failures are due to the children and accept the fact that much of the responsibility rests with the education system and educators.

Many school social codes are unfamiliar and opposed to culturally diverse student home codes. Blacks have difficulty with school instructional concepts and ideas that are absent in their community, culture, or economic environment that ignore or misrepresent their present condition. School instructional procedures include cultural values, orientations, and perceptions that differ from those of Black students. Inappropriate curriculum and instruction are concerns that make reversing underachievement for culturally diverse students difficult. Most elementary and secondary school curricula are oriented to have a positive impact on White middle-class children.

How can schools discontinue their major contributions to institutionalized racism?

Schools can discontinue their contribution to institutionalized racism by promoting positive racial teacher student classroom relationships. Positive racial relationships at schools and in the classroom are in many ways 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 relationships with students 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.

Teachers who have positive feelings toward their students are more likely to have students reciprocate those positive feelings. Teachers who develop positive and personal racial relationships with students may prevent psychological development problems in their students. Students are more willing to develop positive racial relationships with teachers who tend to form close friendships with their students.

A classism approach is not the solution for institutionalized racism. Institutionalized racism will become ineffective by promoting positive racial teacher student classroom relationships (Properateasclaships).

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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 and Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships: Methodology

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