In a recent article, a cultural audit conducted by the Iowa State University revealed that there exist racial disparities at Valley High School. The audit could become problematic for teachers across the nation. Teachers must protect themselves by ensuring that they are not victimized by the accusations associated with racial disparities.

According to the article, Report: ‘Deep racial disparities’ exist at Valley, the Iowa “audit found that students of color at the West Des Moines school are facing racial disparities when compared to other students. It was reported that Black students are three times more likely to be labeled “at risk” by the school administration, even though they have higher attendance rates than most of their peers. “The same is true for Hispanic and multiracial students. Poor attendance is often one of the reasons a student is placed in the “at risk” category”, according to the article.

In addition, Black students are four times more likely to be suspended. “These students of color are actually not misbehaving at disproportionate rates but are instead watched more closely by adults and thus reprimanded more frequently,” wrote the Iowa researchers.

Furthermore, the pendulum appears to swing in favor of White and Asian students. White and Asian students are more likely to be labeled as gifted when compared to other students of color. Multiracial students are eight times less likely to be enrolled in gifted classes. Black and Hispanic students are three times less likely to participate in the gifted classes.

It is only a matter of time before the public begins to understand the processes that contributes to the racial disparities at schools. For example, inappropriate curriculum and instruction are concerns that make reversing underachievement for culturally diverse students difficult. Most elementary and secondary school curricula are oriented towards White middle-class children because curriculum materials are selected and implemented by White middle-class teachers. The process normally involve teachers endorsing the curriculum materials. This is a fact that is little emphasized in the media.

School discipline is another challenge that contributes to racial disparities. The Iowa audit reveals that teachers discriminate against students by implementing differential discipline. What they excluded is that the majority of discipline consequences for any student normally begins with a discipline referral from a teacher.

In a study conducted by Dr. Derrick L. Campbell it was found that 70% of the student discipline referrals resulted from classroom relationships challenges between teachers and students. Within that 70%, discipline referral quantities included disrupting class (40%), disrespect towards a staff member (28%), open defiance (23%), and other infractions (9%). These discipline referral quantities indicate there is a need for a teacher-student relationship educational reform initiative.

This is where teachers must begin. Teachers must involve themselves in a process that empowers them to promote positive racial teacher student classroom relationships. Positive 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 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. Long-term teacher-student relationships result in increased teacher job satisfaction. Teachers who have positive feelings toward their students are more likely to have students reciprocate those positive feelings. 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 which in turn will eliminate accusations associated with racial disparities.

Related Articles

Study highlights racial inequality at West Des Moines high school

ISU Audit of Valley High School Shows Significant Divide Between White Students and Minorities

Black students at Valley see disparities at school

Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
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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“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

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